BASEBALL: Baker leads Ball State during spring break
The Daily News
Ball State’s pitching has improved this season, but no other player is showing it like sophomore righty Scott Baker.
Baker is 4-0 on the season, including taking wins in both of his starts over Spring Break, against Morehead State and Harvard. In those games, Baker pitched 12 innings, gave up just three earned runs and struck out 15.
Just Ball State’s No. 3 starter, Baker is statistically outperforming the team’s Friday starter Chris Marangon. Marangon has pitched well, with a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings, but Baker’s is 2.25 in 24 innings.
Coach Rich Maloney said Baker has been consistently pitching in the mid 80’s, but believes with his size, he can reach the upper 80’s and become even more dangerous.
“He’s having a lot of success as a pitcher, and he’s got a lot of confidence,” Maloney said. “I want to see him continue that before we consider him to be a Friday night guy.”
Baker worked in and out of jams all game against Morehead State, but always found a way to get a critical strikeout when necessary.
Despite surrendering four hits and three walks against Harvard, Baker managed to induce several double plays, limiting the damage to just one earned run over his five inning performance.
To Baker, there was no difference approach to that start than any other one’s he’s had.
“I just wanted to go out to the mound and get into my rhythm,” Baker said. “Throw strikes and get ahead in the count, that leads to outs.”
The combination worked well for Baker, as Harvard hit just .173 against him.
It’s a reoccurring theme for Baker this season, who the starters with an opponent’s batting average of .253 on the season, and has given up just six earned runs.
He’s gotten outstanding run support over his last two starts, Ball State scored 22 runs combined against Morehead State and Harvard, after scoring just 11 during his first two outings. Baker attributes his spike in success to finding comfort in his pregame habits.
“I think finding a routine really helped me before the games,” Baker said. “Going out there and doing the same thing every time I go out there and pitch. It really helps out a lot.”
Maloney said that although Baker wasn’t as sharp against Harvard as he was earlier in the week, he still liked what he saw out of him.
“He [Baker] didn’t have his best stuff, but he worked around it and ended up giving us what we needed,” Maloney said. “Matt Johnson was able to come in to relieve Baker and really came up big for us today. They both did.”
Despite Baker’s hot start, Maloney pumped the brakes on the emerging pitcher, not wanting to blow things out of proportion.
“He’s been pitching well, but he’s still got things to work on,” Maloney said. “But we really like what we’re seeing from him right now.”
Baker will attempt to improve his record to 5-0 when he pitches this weekend against IPFW in the Cardinals’ first home series of the season.