BASEBALL: Ball State hits the road in MAC play
Cards face MAC-East leading Miami
After a successful series against Ohio last weekend, Ball State (4-18, 2-1) hits the road for the first time in Mid-American Conference play this weekend as it travels to Oxford, Ohio, for a three-game series with the MAC East division leading Miami RedHawks (12-12, 3-0) at McKie Field.
Coach Alex Marconi said this series is just as important as any other series.
"The goal is to win the series, no matter who we're playing," Marconi said. "That means us going in there [tonight] and playing well [and] giving ourselves a chance to win at the end of the game. These guys need to learn to build upon that and not start from scratch this weekend."
Cal Bowling, who tossed a one-run, two-hit complete game versus Ohio last Friday, will get the start for Ball State tonight.
The junior right-hander is 2-1, with a 3.12 ERA in six starts this season and looks to build off of his last outing.
Sophomore righty Mac Thoreson (2-1, 1.93 ERA) will take the hill for the RedHawks. Thoreson has worked a team-high 42 innings this season and owns the best ERA on the team.
Ball State has started to turn the corner as it has posted wins in two of its last three games.
The Cardinals average just over four runs per game this season and are hitting .234 as a team, which is 10th best in the MAC.
Though its team batting average is below average, Ball State has seen success at the plate this season.
Junior second baseman Mitch Widau leads the team with a .328 batting average, 13 RBI and a .439 on-base percentage and is second on the team with 22 hits.
As his team enters its first road series of conference play, Marconi stressed the importance of execution from his players during practice this week.
"We understand we're not going to score 10 runs a game," Marconi said. "That's just not our team. At this point we've got to execute the little things, the [sacrifice] bunts, the hit-and-runs to make sure we're scoring runs and not wasting base runners. Our base runners are extremely important to us, so we've got to be able to aggressively advance them without taking a lot of chances."
Marconi shrugged at the mention of Miami's solid pitching and timely hitting. Instead, the Ball State coach said his team has a chance to win if it executes.
"It's a well-balanced team," Marconi said. "They're pitching well, hitting well and playing pretty good defense. I don't know that there's one area where they're blowing teams away. But if we go in there and play the way we can, we'll have an opportunity to win some games."
First pitch for tonight's game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Games 2 and 3 will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.