BASEBALL: Cardinals hope to make adjustments in season's second weekend
Ball State visits UAB for three-game series
After going 1-1 last weekend winning on Opening Day for the first time since 2005, coach Alex Marconi said he expects to see some adjustments from Ball State when it opens a three-game series Friday afternoon at UAB.
Marconi said a lack of adjustments between games by the Cardinals contributed to their disappointing results last year. With an extra year's worth of experience, however, he thinks the younger players are better positioned to make the necessary tweaks to show continual improvement.
"This year, they're at a point where they're able to make adjustments," Marconi said. "Last year, it was more head-spinning type of stuff. Now they have a better idea of what to expect on a game-to-game and week-to-week basis."
UAB (2-2) should represent a more challenging opponent than Dayton and USC-Upstate did last weekend. The Blazers were picked to finish eighth in the preseason Conference USA coaches' poll, but have had three straight winning seasons and upset No. 16 Clemson 2-1 on Opening Day. Right-hander Dillon Napoleon allowed one run on four hits in seven innings in the victory.
Offensively, UAB is led by left fielder Ivan DeJesus and first baseman Patrick Palmeiro, son of former All-Star Rafael. Both DeJesus and Palmeiro have started the season with slumps, hitting a combined 4-for-32 with no extra base hits through four games.
Marconi said he expects the Blazers to be a good team this year, but won't know how good they are until he sees them up close.
"We are going into the weekend expecting to have our hands full," Marconi said. "But we have the same expectations as always. If we play well, execute and limit our mistakes, we'll compete for wins. If we don't, we'll be up against it."
Ball State did a good job limiting its mistakes last weekend, especially on defense. Playing outside for the first time often leads to defensive miscues, but the Cardinals made just one error in their first two games. Marconi said they made a few mental mistakes that don't show up in a box score, but overall was happy with the results.
Still, Marconi is most interested in seeing if the Cardinals can improve on defense and in other areas of the game.
"It will continue to be that, young guys and their at bats and what sort of progress they make," Marconi said. "As well as the young arms and what sort of progress they're going to make."
Ball State at UAB
Young Memorial Field
Game No. 3
First pitch: 4 p.m. Friday
Pitching matchup: RHP Cal Bowling (0-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. RHP Dillon Napoleon (1-0, 1.29)
Weather: 56 degrees, mostly cloudy, northwest 17 mph
Game No. 4
First pitch: 3 p.m. Saturday
Pitching matchup: LHP Nestor Bautista (0-1, 47.25) vs. RHP Ben Bullard (0-1, 12.27)
Weather: 54 degrees, partly cloudy, NNW 13 mph
Game No. 5
First pitch: 2 p.m. Sunday
Pitching matchup: RHP T.J. Weir (1-1, 6.75 in 2011) vs. TBA
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy, southeast 8 mph