After scoring a combined 55 runs in March 19-21’s four game sweep against Mid-American Conference (MAC) opponent Bowling Green (3-16, 1-9 MAC), Ball State Baseball (14-8, 9-1 MAC) stayed hot by winning both games in their doubleheader against Western Michigan (4-15, 2-4 MAC).
Ball State junior left handed pitcher Tyler Schweitzer said the Cardinals are “riding the wave” of their wins over Bowling Green, leading to high locker room confidence. For the pitching staff, Schweitzer said they try to piggyback on the ball the offense gets rolling.
“Once our offense gets going, our pitchers try to get in a groove where we can settle in and attack hitters,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer got the start in game one of the doubleheader, where he would pitch five and ⅔ innings and hold the Broncos scoreless with 11 strikeouts on 104 pitches. Schweitzer said the Cardinals strength and conditioning coach Bill Zenisek has helped him prepare for games like this, although he admitted this weekend’s changing schedule had him on edge.
“It’s always nerve racking,” Schweitzer said. “I had butterflies in my stomach and I didn’t know what to expect today because of the weather, but it worked out for me.”
Game one would ultimately belong to the Cardinals, winning 2-0 in a seven inning contest. The standout for the Cardinals at the plate came in fifth year catcher Adam Christianson, who went 2-for-3.
In what was originally a weekend series at Western Michigan, both teams had to adjust their schedules and two of four games were moved to be a doubleheader at Ball State on March 28. Maloney said this adjustment was something both teams had to deal with and one the Cardinals were prepared for.
“Nobody practices like us,” Maloney said. “Meaning we go in at 5 a.m. and practice and we went out yesterday when it was freezing and the games were canceled and we practiced.”
With this series against Western Michigan changing multiple times, Maloney said even though there were periods of time where each team didn’t know where or when they would play one another, the Cardinals stayed ready.
“It’s kind of like who’s going to be able to tough it out after long periods of drought for both teams,” Maloney said.
In game two, the Cardinals would win 12-5 in an offensive contestwhere16 of the game's 17 runs were scored in innings two through five. The Cardinals offensive rally started in the second inning with a two RBI triple from junior second baseman Zach Lane.
Maloney said this triple from Lane was an example of the Cardinals slogan: “pick up your brothers” in action.
“We had two runners on and two of our hitters didn’t move the guys,” Maloney said. “Then all of a sudden we get the big two out hit and that’s how you win games. Lane picked up a brother offensively and Ryan Brown picked up our first two pitchers.”
Brown, a sophomore right handed pitcher, came in after all five of the Broncos runs were scored. He pitched three and ⅓ innings, striking out 9-of-10 batters retired.
Lane also had a two run home run later in the game, and Christianson hit a three run home run. Lane finished the day 3-8 with four RBIs, a triple and a home run and Christianson finished 4-for-8 with four RBIs and a home run.
The Broncos top performer at the plate came in senior catcher/left fielder Connor Charping who finished 2-for-6 with one RBI.
In the first ten conference games of the season, Ball State has won nine. Maloney said the Cardinals record is impressive and he’s proud of his group.
“To these guys' credit, we’ve played well,” Maloney said. “We’re off to a good start. Honestly, you couldn’t be more elated with our start.”
The Cardinals will take on Western Michigan next on April 5 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ball State takes the diamond for a four game series against Toledo (11-11, 6-5 MAC) from April 1-3.