Ball State fell one game short of a Mid-American Conference Championship last season, losing to Bowling Green 0-7 in the final MAC game.

Head coach Rich Maloney said that loss served as motivation in this weekend’s three-game series.

“It meant something to these guys,” Maloney said. “We felt pretty low [after losing to Bowling Green last season]. … We had to wait another year to get another chance at them, and it was nice for the guys to get off to a nice start.”

Ball State opened its MAC schedule with a three-game sweep of Bowling Green, giving the team a perfect start in league play.

Maloney said one player who was motivated by the tournament loss to Bowling Green was sophomore Ryan Spaulding. In three games over the weekend, the second baseman racked up five hits to go along with an RBI and five runs scored.

It wasn’t just Spaulding who contributed. In the series opener — a 9-5 victory for the Cardinals — every starter picked up at least one hit and seven of the nine starters scored a run. Six different Cardinals grabbed a hit in game two and ten different players either scored a run, earned a walk or punched a base hit in the series finale.

“That’s what a team is,” Maloney said of his players’ collective performance over the weekend. “A team is a bunch of different guys who work together toward a common goal. We are playing as a team.”

Ball State also saw its pitching staff work more efficiently in this series.

The starting pitching staff, one of Ball State’s most valuable assets, has struggled at times this season. Individuals in the Cardinals’ rotation have shown potential, but a consistent game-in, game-out option has been desired.

During the team’s current six-game win streak, though, the Cardinals’ staff as a whole allowed 2.5 runs a game. This improvement from the pitching staff is a welcome sight for head coach Rich Maloney, as the previous six games showed a team allowing 12.8 runs per game.

The Cardinals lost five of the six, and quickly found themselves sitting only two games over .500 at 10-8. Now, following the sweep of Bowling Green, Ball State sits at 16-8 in the MAC.