BASEBALL: Ball State begins final regular season series
Cardinals wrap up season with home series against Rockets
In its final series of the year this weekend against Toledo, Ball State looks to build some momentum and confidence going into next season.
Coach Alex Marconi said what's important about these games is not only getting his players more at-bats, but for players to begin to realize what the coaches have been telling them all season long.
"It's important to grasp some of the things we (coaches) are talking about, and to get them (players) to take that out on the field with them so they can improve," Marconi said. "It's important for these guys to realize and understand how easy it is to throw an at-bat away. I think the thing these guys are starting to figure out is you can have productive at-bats that lead into outs."
Ball State's offense has seen improvement in recent weeks. In its last four games, Ball State has scored a total of 39 runs in comparison to 15 runs in its previous four games.
Leading the recent offensive surge for Ball State is senior shortstop TJ Baumet. In his last four games, Baumet is hitting .647 with a 1.118 slugging percentage and a .700 on-base percentage.
Marconi said the key to Ball State's offensive success in its last four games as compared to earlier in the season is batters relaxing at the plate, confidence and more at-bats.
"I think one of the main things is our guys are getting comfortable in the batter's box and confident," Marconi said. "We've had a lot of new players play this year from last year, and a lot of those players are young. Even the older players that have been here for a couple years weren't for the most part starters for more than two or three years before this year."
"It has unfortunately taken us a little longer than I thought it was going to, but they've gotten at-bats under their belts and some games under their belts," he said. "Now their starting to settle in and get more comfortable."
In its match-up with Toledo this weekend, Ball State may continue its recent offensive success. Starting for Toledois junior right-hander Lincoln Rassi, who owns a 3-5 record with a 5.14 ERA. In addition, hitters are batting at .312 against him.
Unfortunately for Ball State, it's had its own issues with pitching all season long. For the season, Ball State pitchers have a combined ERA of 6.11 and hitters are batting .301.
Toledo junior center fielder Ben Hammer and senior shortstop Chris Dudics may give Ball State pitchers more problems at the mound. Hammer is hitting .351 on the season with 25 RBIs while Dudics is hitting .315 with a team-leading 31 runs scored and 13 stolen bases.
Marconi said despite Ball State's pitching struggles, it is still a work in progress.
"There's a few things that have led to our pitching struggles," Marconi said. "One big thing being Morgan Coombs is not with us anymore. You take one of your best pitchers out and you fill in with someone who hasn't played as consistent as him, it's going to cause some issues."