Ball State hosts Bowling Green State in MAC play

<p>Junior&nbsp;closer&nbsp;BJ Butler pitches against Western Michigan on April 10. Butler was named Mid-American Conference West Division Pitcher of the Week on April 18.</p>

Junior closer BJ Butler pitches against Western Michigan on April 10. Butler was named Mid-American Conference West Division Pitcher of the Week on April 18.

Statistics

Ball State batting average - .295

Bowling Green State batting average - .237

Ball State ERA - 3.89

Bowling Green State ERA - 4.47


At the Ball State baseball game April 23, Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex will finally receive its official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Head coach Rich Maloney said he expects a crowded stadium for the event, which coincides with Ball State Athletics’ Spring Ball Saturday.

“I suspect this will be the biggest crowd that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said. “I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t.”

Fans that attend will be able to see the Mid-American Conference West Division-leading Cardinals (23-15, 9-3 MAC) take on the Bowling Green State University Falcons (14-23, 4-8 MAC).

Ball State enters the series, which kicks off April 22 at 3 p.m., with the best offense in the MAC. The Cardinals lead the MAC with a .295 team betting average, have scored a MAC-best 258 runs and also lead the conference with 138 extra-base hits.

Junior closer BJ Butler is the reigning MAC West Pitcher of the Week. As the closer, his usage depends on how the game goes. Sometimes, he said, he stays on the bench because the Cardinals’ build too big of a lead.

“There’s always a little bit that’s kind of like, ‘aw, I wish I would’ve able to pitch today,’” he said. “But it’s more exciting when we score a bunch of runs and we’re gonna win.”

BGSU has the third-best team ERA in the MAC with a 4.47, but Ball State’s 3.89 team ERA is second. The Falcons have also only hit .237 this season.

Butler said the goal for the series is to sweep Bowling Green and move ahead in the MAC standings. Ball State is currently tied with Kent State (27-10, 9-3 MAC) and Miami (20-16, 9-3 MAC) for the overall conference lead.

Ball State, Butler said, is in a good position to win the MAC with its batting average, ERA and .970 fielding percentage – the second-best mark in the MAC.

“If you’re leading the MAC in those categories, you have a good chance of winning the conference championship,” he said. “We know we’re right up there … and we’re putting all three aspects of the game together right now, so we really believe that it’s our conference to win this year.”

The series is set to begin April 22 at 3 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. games on April 23 and 24.

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