Ball State sweeps Western Michigan 41-6 in 3-game series

<p>Sophomore right-handed pitcher Brendan Burns prepares to throw a pitch to a Western Michigan player during the game on April 10 at Ball Diamond. DN PHOTO PATRICK MURPHY</p>

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Brendan Burns prepares to throw a pitch to a Western Michigan player during the game on April 10 at Ball Diamond. DN PHOTO PATRICK MURPHY

Ball State baseball (21-12, 7-2 MAC) swept Western Michigan (8-20, 1-5 MAC) in its three-game series, outscoring the Broncos 41-6.

Head coach Rich Maloney had a simple explanation.

“There really isn’t much you can say,” he said. “We were pretty dominant.”

At the plate, the Cardinals hit .426 (48-108) with 15 doubles, three triples and five home runs.

Junior first baseman Caleb Stayton was 9-15 in the series with seven runs scored, 11 RBIs, three doubles, a triple and a home run. He said it’s great the Cardinals are clicking during Mid-American Conference play.

“We want to try to play our best ball in conference,” Stayton said. “I think we’ve got more in it, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. … It’s just fun to come out here and play, even when it’s cold as heck out here.”

Rain forced the two teams to postpone April 8's series opener, and snow pushed April 9's start time back to 3 p.m. Ball State won the series opener 7-2 and scored five earned runs against Western Michigan junior left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin.

Akin entered the series with a MAC-best 1.43 ERA, but Maloney said the Cardinals were ready to go after facing several teams' top pitchers early in the season.

“We’ve played the Friday guy of [No. 15] LSU, [No. 14] Ole Miss [and No. 11] Oregon State,” Maloney said. “So we play guys that are nationally ranked, even higher than Akin. Quite frankly, we were prepared for that.”

The Cardinals finished the series with a doubleheader April 10, winning game one 21-1 and closing the series with a 13-3 victory. In the first half of the doubleheader, 11 different players recorded at least one hit, including all nine starters. Maloney said the players fed off of each other’s energy.

“Hitting is a contagious thing,” he said. “When you’ve got this many guys that are capable of hitting, it’s like one passing it on to the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one.”

On the mound, the Cardinals limited the Broncos to six runs (four earned) on 20 hits in the three games. Junior right-handed pitcher Zach Plesac (3-1, 3.71 ERA) earned the win April 8 after giving up just two runs in eight innings, tying his career-high 11 strikeouts.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Brendan Burns (5-1, 2.58 ERA) also tied his career-high eight strikeouts in the series finale. Redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Kevin Marnon (4-3, 3.56 ERA) then turned in a scoreless seven-inning performance with five strikeouts and no walks in the first game April 10.

Stayton said the strong performances on the mound helped take the pressure off of the bats.

“It’s night and day when the pitchers are doing what they do," he said. "Even when you’re out in the field, you kind of have this confidence like nobody’s going to touch him — get back in there and go hit.”

Stayton and the Cardinals will get their next at bats at 6 p.m. April 13 when they take on Indiana University (17-13, 4-2 Big Ten) in Bloomington.


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