BASEBALL: Ball State drops both Sunday games
Marconi praises Toledo's pitching staff
It was a tough weekend series for the Ball State baseball team against Toledo.
After being shutout 5-0 in Friday's series opener and rained out on Saturday, Ball State dropped both games in Sunday's doubleheader series finale, getting swept for the second time this season during Mid-American Conference play.
The Rockets' starting staff was virtually unhittable, giving the Cardinals fits all weekend. The combination of sophomore lefty Ryan Wilkinson, junior righty Michael Hamman and senior righty Matt Kuna worked a combined 21 2/3 innings, allowing a lone earned run off 10 hits, while striking 20 compared to walking three.
Coach Alex Marconi said Toledo's staff was the best his team has faced thus far.
"They came in and commanded the zone with multiple pitches, and pitched down in the zone," Marconi said. "All three of their starters did that pretty much the whole game."
Despite tossing his first complete game as a Cardinal, junior right-hander Chris Marangan (1-5) was dealt the loss, his second in a row. Though he's been on the wrong side of the box score the last two times out, Marangan has been a bright spot for the Cardinals.
Marconi said Marangan was similar to Toledo's pitchers with how effective he was controlling the lower part of the strike zone.
"He's done a great job," Marconi said. "He threw multiple pitches for strikes."
But the Cardinals' offense couldn't solve the Rockets' powerful arms. In the three game series, the Cardinals amassed just four runs off of 13 hits.
In the first game Sunday, the Cardinals collected five hits, but couldn't push any runs across to aide Marangan.
"Really, since we couldn't get anything going offensively, it was tough to get in the run column to give him a cushion," Marconi said.
Nonetheless, Marconi was fairly pleased with the overall effort from his pitching staff as a whole, saying that the staff has kept multiple games close all season long.
"I would give all of our pitchers credit," Marconi said. "They've done a really good job of keeping us in baseball games. We've had our hiccups on the pitching side of things, but by and large, the staff for the last couple of weeks has done a pretty good job of giving us opportunities to win."
The second game was summed up by one inning. The Rockets scored five times in the bottom of the fourth to jump out to 9-0 lead. The one play Marconi said hurt the Cardinals the most was when Rockets' freshman Dan Zuchowski lined a two-run single up the middle.
"It was us putting ourselves in a jam, in a tough spot," Marconi said. "They did a good job of execution on their end offensively. They had a freshman hitter who took a 3-2 curveball for a strike with two outs against [Jacob Brewer] and got a base hit up the middle and scored two runs. It was just a good piece of hitting. He did a job of keeping his hands back."
The Cardinals (11-29, 6-12) will now have a full week off for finals before hosting conference rival Western Michigan on Friday.
"After they all ace their exams, they can all relax a little bit and they can focus on baseball and just concentrate on the task at hand on the field," Marconi said.