Senior infielder Alex Maloney throws the ball across to first base for an out during the game against Dayton at the Ball Baseball Diamond on March 18. The Cardinals hosted a double header for this season's home opener and won both games. The Cardinals won 6-0 in the first game and 4-3 in the second game. Kyle Crawford // DN
PREVIEW: Ball State baseball vs. Purdue
Ball State baseball hosts Purdue Wednesday in its last non-conference game before the start of Mid-American Conference play.
The Cardinals (11-9) are 2-2 against the Boilermakers (10-8) in the last two seasons, with the home team winning each game.
"It's an in-state rivalry and it's a big game on the calendar when you play the Big Ten teams — especially when we get a chance to play them at home," head coach Rich Maloney said. "You want to do well for your home crowd."
Ball State statistics
Batting average: .241
Runs scored per game: 4.25
Batting average: .265
Runs scored per game: 6.78
Purdue finished the 2016 season with a 10-44 (2-22 Big Ten) record, but Maloney said it's a "vastly improved team" — already matching last season's win total. The Boilermakers are also scoring 6.78 runs per game and hitting .265 as a team.
Ball State is hitting .241 while scoring 4.25 runs per game, but the Cardinals' pitching staff have a 2.76 ERA compared to the Boilermakers' 6.17 ERA. With the MAC season starting Friday, Maloney said he's planning on saving his usual starting pitchers for the weekend.
"I can't speak for Purdue, but for us it's going to be kind of a staff day because we've got Kent [State] coming up on Friday," Maloney said. "We've got to make sure everybody's rested, so you'll see four or five guys probably pitch for us for an inning or two."
Senior infielder Alex Maloney has the highest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage among Ball State players with at least 50 at-bats, hitting .280/.372/.413 with four doubles and two home runs.
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex.