The Ball State baseball team hosted a double-header against Dayton on March 18 at the Ball Baseball Diamond for this season's home opener. The Cardinals won 6-0 in the first game and 4-3 in the second game.
Ball State baseball's bats wake up in four-game series against Dayton
Ball State baseball scored 22 runs in four games against Dayton on Saturday and Sunday, winning three.
Before the series, head coach Rich Maloney said his goal was to get the Cardinals (11-9) scoring five runs per game, and they averaged 5.5 against the Flyers (6-11).
Though Ball State entered the weekend with a Mid-American Conference-leading 3.20 staff ERA, the team was only hitting .227 and was missing senior first baseman Caleb Stayton, who's been sitting with a concussion.
Ball State statistics vs. Dayton (four games)
Batting average: .296 (40-135)
Runs scored per game: 5.5
Still, the Cardinals hit .296 against Dayton with 12 extra-base hits.
“That’s encouraging, because for us to really have the season we want to have we’re going to need a lot of contributions from a lot of people," Maloney said.
Ball State won the first two games at home Saturday, 6-0 and 4-3, before losing the first game Sunday 3-2 and winning the second 10-2.
The Cardinals are now 11-2 in games where they score three or more runs and 0-7 when they score two or fewer runs.
The pitchers, like they have all season, put together strong performances. Senior right-hander BJ Butler pitched a complete-game shutout in Saturday's series-opening 6-0 win, and freshman John Baker took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in the second half of Sunday's doubleheader, allowing one hit with eight strikeouts in eight scoreless innings.
In total, Ball State pitchers allowed four earned runs in the four games, good for a 1.03 ERA with 10.0 strikeouts per 9 innings.
“When you get starting pitching like, that, you’re really in all of the games," Maloney said.
Even in the loss, the pitching staff still put up solid numbers. Starting pitcher Kevin Marnon, a redshirt senior lefty, allowed three runs in 4.2 innings, but only one was earned. He struck out four with four walks and two hits before sophomore righty Nick Floyd took over and pitched the last 3.1 innings without allowing a run.
Redshirt sophomore Griffin Hulecki went 7-16 at the plate, splitting time between catcher and designated hitter. He recorded a hit in all four games with three runs scored, four RBI and a double.
"To see Griffin come in there and give us a lift was huge," Maloney said. "Not that it was totally unexpected, but to say he was going to go 7-for-16 — yeah that was unexpected.”
Ball State hosts Purdue at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Ball Diamond in its last game before MAC play begins Friday against Kent State.