BASEBALL: Cardinals ready for another Big East opponent
Ball State travels to Notre Dame for nonconference action
Fresh off its victory at No. 10 University of Louisville on Saturday, Ball State University will travel to the University of Notre Dame and take on another Big East opponent Tuesday afternoon.
The Cardinals (6-13) are looking for their first win against the Fighting Irish since 2005, when they routed Notre Dame 14-5.
"It's a big game for us," coach Greg Beals said. "It's like playing any Big Ten school. We're playing against a bigger program and looking forward to it."
Shortstop T.J. Baumet said the Cardinals won't be afraid of any teams this year after beating two top-15 teams already.
"We think we can play with any team," he said. "We just need to start the winning close games."
The Cardinals will give the ball to right-hander Brad Piatt (0-2) to start Tuesday. But Piatt won't stay in the game long, as Beals tries to get his pitching staff ready for the start of Mid-American Conference play Friday at Ohio University.
One pitcher he really wants to get in the game is closer Aaron Hammons, who didn't pitch at all at Louisville because of the game situations.
"Aaron's one of our top go-to guys in the bullpen," Beals said. "It's important we get him in on Tuesday."
Notre Dame (7-11) has struggled this year. It has lost four in a row and was swept last weekend at home by Michigan State University. The Irish have not found a consistent lineup yet this season, using a different one in each of the first 15 games this year.
First baseman Casey Martin leads Notre Dame with a .421 batting average and 16 RBI.
Beals said on paper the Irish appear to be in a down year after contending for a spot in the NCAA Tournament for many years.
"They're struggling on defense more than anything," he said. "They've played a good schedule. I think they're a lot like we are."
Notre Dame's schedule hasn't been nearly as arduous as what Ball State has played. The Irish have played one ranked opponent, losing to then-No. 23 Ohio State University in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge on Feb. 27. Notre Dame also played the University of Illinois in the Challenge, losing 11-1. The Cardinals lost to the Illini 10-3 March 14.
Beals just wants Ball State to play good baseball, regardless of the competition.
"It's important that we go up there and play a good game," Beals said. "It's a big game for us no matter where they're at."
Ball State at Notre Dame
Game No. 20
First pitch: 5:05
Frank Eck Stadium
Pitching matchup: RHP Brad Piatt (0-2, 7.98 ERA) vs. RHP Ryan Sharpley (0-0, 6.75)
Weather: 55 degrees, partly cloudy, northwest 9 mph