BASEBALL: Ball State swept by Belmont
Losing streak extended to five games
Coach Alex Marconi had a good feeling about Ball State's three-game series versus Belmont this weekend, saying he thought the Cardinals would turn it into a "very competitive series."
"They're not blowing anybody away stats wise," Marconi said, referring to Belmont's offense. "If we go in and do what we should do, we should have a very competitive series."
It was a chess match from the first pitch of Game 1 on Friday to the final out of Game 3 on Sunday between both teams, with the Bruins coming out on top each time.
Despite Marconi's attempts to counter every one of the Bruins' moves, the Bruins swept the series and extended the Cardinals' losing streak to five games.
Nonetheless, Marconi said he felt his team improved, despite going winless.
"[We are making] progress," he said. "Even though we didn't win a game, guys are starting to figure things out a little bit. You can play bad and win and play good and lose. We're not happy about losing, but we're looking forward to getting better."
The Cardinals (2-16) didn't set the tone in any of the three games. They were outscored a combined 12-0 in the first three innings of each game.
"That hurt us this weekend," Marconi said. "We ended up getting solid pitching performances. [Our starters] had a little hiccup that cost us a couple runs and then from there on out the pitching performances were pretty solid."
Junior right-hander Cal Bowling lasted just four innings and gave up five runs off six hits in Friday's 12-inning loss.
"The thing that killed Cal [were] those three batters in the first inning," Marconi said. "Walk, walk and then [he] hung [an] 0-2 slider and the guy hit a three-run homer. After that it was pretty solid."
Senior lefty Derek Grabner turned in a six-inning, seven hit performance in Saturday's 4-1 loss. Marconi said more starts like Grabner's will lead to success for the Cardinals.
"If we get outings like that from our starter, we should win some baseball games," he said. "We've played some solid teams [and] when you have hiccups like that it can be tough to come back. Eventually we'll start putting together some [wins]."
Offensively, the Cardinals were streaky all weekend. While pounding out 16 hits on Friday, Ball State was held to two hits Saturday and seven on Sunday.
"We got a lot of hits [Friday]," Marconi said. "[Saturday], their pitcher was not overpowering. He did a good job of staying down in the zone and caused some problems for our hitters."
Ball State has struggled to be selective at the plate thus far this season, resulting in easy outs for opposing pitchers.
"With our younger guys, they get very impatient and get themselves out fairly easy," Marconi said. "The tough part is to remain calm and wait for the pitcher to make a mistake."
Junior Mitch Widau provided a spark for the offense and continued his success versus the Bruins going 4-for-12, with four RBIs, three singles and a double.
"Mitch goes out [and] doesn't try and do too much," Marconi said. "He doesn't try and hit a three-run home run. He just goes up there and tries to hit hard line drives."
Marconi said his younger players who are struggling at the plate should try to take after their veteran teammate Widau.
"He just tries to hit the ball every time up," he said. "When you have that consistent approach, you're going to be successful."