With one weekend remaining before Mid-American Conference play, Ball State Baseball (2-6) is not in the spot people expected them to be in. Ranked second in the 2022 MAC preseason coaches poll, the Cardinals have only won two of their first eight games.
Head coach Rich Maloney said the Cardinals' have faced tough opponents, so Ball State needs to keep working to be able to defeat those teams.
“We’ve got next weekend to try and get better and then the MAC starts,” Maloney said. “We knew we were going to be playing really tough competition and it was going to be tough. We just have to keep working.”
On Friday, the Cardinals played UNCW (5-2) and lost 2-0. On Saturday, Ball State’s scoring drought continued as they were defeated by Middle Tennessee (3-5).
Maloney said although he is disappointed with the Cardinals hitting results, he won’t go back on his claim that the Cardinals have strength in their bats.
“I know these guys can hit, that was supposed to be a strength of our team and I’m not giving up on that,” Maloney said. “We just have to keep grinding until we get them back on track.”
On Sunday, the Cardinals lost to Coastal Carolina 7-2 in a seven-inning finish due to rain. Monday, the Cardinals would again fail to defeat the Chants, this time losing 9-6.
Veterans for the Cardinals, including fifth-year first baseman Trenton Quartermaine and fifth-year right fielder Nick Powell, were a part of solving the scoring drought for the Cardinals on Sunday and Monday. Quartermaine went 3-for-7 with a home run and three RBIs and Powell went 2-for-8 with four RBIs.
Maloney said it was nice to see those two “come alive” on Sunday and Monday and hopes their success transfers over to the rest of the Cardinals.
“Hitting is kind of a contagious thing and right now we obviously haven’t been hitting on all cylinders,” Maloney said. “We have to get ourselves right and get ready to play because after the next four games it’s all MAC play. Better have it figured out.”
Despite the hitting this weekend and all four games resulting in losses, Maloney said he was pleased with the Cardinals pitching staff, especially on Friday and Saturday.
“I do think we have a lot of arms,” Maloney said. “We have to become consistent by the time we get to MAC play, but the good thing is a lot of guys have got an opportunity and have been put in different situations.”
On the weekend, sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Brown, senior right-handed pitcher Zach Losey and junior right-handed pitcher Trennor O’Donnell stood out. Brown pitched two and two-thirds innings on Saturday, holding Coastal Carolina to zero hits. Losey pitched four innings against Middle Tennessee holding the Blue Raiders to three hits and zero runs, and O’Donnell pitched five innings against the Blue Raiders striking out six batters.
Maloney said the Cardinals will have good practices leading into their four-game series next weekend against Florida A&M (5-3). He said his approach will be drilling down on fundamentals.
“We’ve got to do a better job fundamentally,” Maloney said. “We need to do a better job at base running when we get the opportunities. We have to be able to move the baseball in certain situations.”
The Cardinals take the diamond on Friday, March 4 at 4 p.m. against Florida A&M. The game will be a part of a four-game series Friday-Sunday in Tallahassee, Florida.