Ball State ERA - 4.05
Western Michigan ERA - 5.72
Ball State batting average - .295
Western Michigan batting average - .254
Ball State runs scored - 195 (6.5 runs per game)
Western Michigan runs scored - 85 (3.4 runs per game)
When Ball State baseball (18-12, 4-2 MAC) hosts Western Michigan (8-17, 1-2 MAC) this weekend, Cardinal coach Rich Maloney will be facing off against his alma mater.
Maloney said former Western Michigan head coach Fred Decker, who retired in 2004 after 20 seasons with the Broncos, was one of his mentors.
“I wouldn’t be here [at Ball State] if it wasn’t for my experience at Western,” Maloney said. “Decker, who was the head coach when I played, was like a second dad for me.”
Ball State batters are hitting .295 on the season with 23 home runs in 30 games, but Maloney said they’ll have their hands full with Western Michigan junior left-hander Keegan Akin.
“Akin’s arguably the best pitcher in the league, at least up to this point,” Maloney said. “We’re going to have to scrap and claw to find a way to score a few runs.”
Akin is 3-2 on the season with a 1.43 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched.
Junior right fielder Alex Call, however, said the Cardinals have had plenty of experience against strong arms.
“You can’t psych yourself out. We’ve faced great arms — Drew Rasmussen from Oregon State, Alex Lange from LSU, Jared Poche LSU — I’m missing a few, but traditionally we’ve hit.”
Call is the defending Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week and is hitting .420 on the season with a MAC-best 35 runs scored.
Maloney said Ball State batters will have to earn their runs because Western Michigan has only committed 11 errors on the season, the best mark in the MAC.
“If you don’t make fielding mistakes, you limit the opportunities for the other team to get the big inning,” he said.
Still, Western Michigan’s pitching staff has a combined 5.72 ERA while Ball State’s 4.05 staff ERA. The Broncos have also scored just 85 runs in 25 games, while the Cardinals have scored 195 in 30 games played.
Friday’s game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex, followed by a pair of 1 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday.