BASEBALL: Cardinals travel to in-state foe Valparaiso for one game
Ball State holds a stark advantage in the all-time series lead
Having dropped six straight and seven of its last eight games, and allowed its opponents to score five or more runs in four of its last six defeats, Ball State (11-32) will look to snap its current misfortunes when it travels to in-state rival Valparaiso for the final mid-week non-conference game of the season.
The Crusaders (26-21) could prove to be the matchup the Cardinals need in order to get back to winning. Historically, the Cardinals have dominated the Crusaders in the all-time series.
The two schools have met 63 times dating back to 1948, with the Cardinals holding a 35-27-1 edge. Wednesday's game marks the first meeting between the two squads since April 4, 2006, when the Cardinals posted a 31-19 victory at Ball Diamond.
In fact, the Cardinals are riding a six-game winning streak over the Crusaders. The last time the Crusaders defeated the Cardinals was on April 19, 2001 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Sophomore lefthander Nestor Baustista (1-5, 10.27 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals, looking to push his team's winning streak to seven games over the Crusaders. It will be Bautista's 14th appearance and seventh start of the season for coach Alex Marconi.
Bautista has struggled of late for the Cardinals.
In his last appearance against Toledo in the second game of a doubleheader on April 29, Bautista allowed two runs on four hits in just an inning of work. For the season, Bautista has worked 30 2/3 innings, allowed 35 earned runs on 56 hits while striking out 28 and walking 19.
His team-high .389 opposing batting average is glaring, and Bautista will need to pitch much better in order to contain the Crusaders' offense, which boasts the second-best batting average of.277, in the Horizon League this season.
Junior outfielder/infielder Andrew Bain leads the Crusaders with a .317 batting average and owns a team-high 64 hits on the season. Junior infielder Elliott Martin leads the group in RBI with 37 on the season.
Ball State hopes to build some momentum heading into this weekend's three-game Mid-American Conference series at Central Michigan.