Ball State Baseball (25-14, 19-4 MAC) defeated Northern Illinois (7-13, 6-16 MAC) in all four games of the weekend series between the Cardinals and Huskies by a combined score of 43-7. Ball State head coach Rich Maloney said the Cardinals put their April 19 14-2 loss to Western Michigan (13-24, 10-13 MAC) behind them in preparation for the series.
The Cardinals won game one of the series and the doubleheader 13-0 on April 23 along with a 6-1 win in game two. On April 24 Ball State won 9-5 and closed the series with a 15-1 win April 25. At first glance, the Cardinals' dominant weekend looks like an offense-heavy one, and it was, however, Maloney said the Cardinal pitching staff deserves just as much credit.
“We got four excellent starting pitching performances,” Maloney said. “The best we had all year, so that was very pleasing.”
Junior left-handed pitcher Tyler Schweitzer continued his career season (6-2 record with a 2.57 ERA), as he led the Cardinals to victory in game one of the weekend series on April 23. Schweitzer pitched six and ⅓ innings, allowing six hits and striking out seven while allowing no runs or walks.
Heading into the season, Maloney thought Ball State’s pitching staff had potential going into the season, but was uncertain about results given the Cardinal rotation’s lack of experience. Maloney said this weekend was huge for his staff and he feels confident in them going into the April 29-May 1 series against Central Michigan (28-10, 21-1 MAC).
“The good thing is that everybody's rested and ready to go from a pitching standpoint,” Maloney said. “We didn't have to tax anybody. We’re going to be well-rested, as far as pitching goes, and that's outstanding.”
Notable offensive standouts for the Cardinals include senior third baseman Ryan Peltier going 5-14 with a home run, a triple and five RBIs, fifth-year center fielder Amir Wright hitting 4-14 with seven RBIs and freshman designated hitter Hunter Dobbins going 5-15 with a home run and three RBIs. Maloney said he felt the Cardinals stepped up to the challenge in the series that resulted in a weekend they “had to have”.
“We knew what was in front of us and we needed to win these games just to try to keep up with Central [Michigan] and have a chance,” Maloney said. “Our guys answered the bell.”
With the Cardinals victory in game two of April 23rd’s doubleheader, Maloney officially won his 900th career game as a collegiate head coach. Current and former coaches, players and friends reached out to congratulate Maloney on the accomplishment via social media.
Maloney credited his winning ways to the people he has around him, whether that be the players he has coached, staff he has coached alongside or administrators for giving him the opportunity, as well as acknowledged the dedication it takes from himself and his support system to make it possible.
“What people don't understand is the commitment to discipline and perseverance, the challenge it is every day because every team wants to win,” Maloney said. “So being able to have that many wins is something certainly I'm proud of, for our guys, proud of the guys who started and believed in our motto back in 1996. We've come this far now and you know the system works, guys buy-in.”
The Cardinals next series against Central Michigan will be a matchup pitting the number one and number two team in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) against one another as Ball State trails the Chippewas in the MAC standings. Ball State must win all four games of the series to pass Central Michigan in the standings, as they are 3.5 games behind.
Maloney put out a call to action, telling baseball fans everywhere to come and see the series due to the competitive nature between the division rivals, series of the past's highly competitive nature and the high stakes of this upcoming series. He said he feels the Cardinals deserve the support, as does college baseball as a whole.
“Anybody who loves baseball and loves Ball State should come out to these games because these are two really outstanding teams for the last three years,” Maloney said. “It will be a dogfight, there's no question about it. Both teams will be highly competitive.”
The forecast for Muncie, Indiana over the weekend is set to be in the mid-to-high 60s with a 50% chance of rain on the second and third day of games, as the Cardinals and Chippewas partake in a four-game series April 29-May 1. First pitch of game one on the 29th is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Muncie.