Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weekend Series Preview: Eastern Michigan

I lived in Ypsilanti for the past seven years so my knowledge of Eastern’s sports is pretty extensive. Basically all you need to know about the athletic department is summed up in one sentence. Eastern is a division 2-caliber athletic department competing in division 1 sports. Losing and a lack of attendance continue to be the staple of a department that is constantly in the shadow of the school six miles away in Ann Arbor. That being said however, the baseball team does have a rich history and actually made the NCAA tournament within the last three years. That was the lone year Jake Boss, now the Michigan State head coach, was there.

How have they played?

This year so far EMU is doing just about as well as any MAC team as they are 10-14 on the year and 2-1 in conference play. Their best win of year so far was an opening day upset of #25 Kansas in the horrendous baseball stadium we call the Metrodome, formerly (thank God) the home of the Minnesota Twins. The Eagles also won the middle game of a series versus the University of West Virginia 23-0. Unfortunately they also happened to lose the other two games of the series by a pretty sizable margin.

Common Opponent

Up to this date West Virginia is the only baseball team that has played both opponents. Even with one very protruding loss to the tune of 23-0(!?), WVU is 3-1 against EMU and BG, beating the Falcons 10-7 just last Tuesday and winning two out of three the weekend before against the Eagles.

Key Players

Eastern only has four players hitting above .300 on the season, with Daniel Russell leading the team with a .362 batting average. Zack Leonard is the big cleanup man for EMU though, collecting 28 RBIs, two home runs, and eight doubles while being the only Eagle to start all 24 games.

There isn’t really any one player offensively who jumps out at you from the statistical data, and from the pitching side things don’t look much better. Steven Young is the only person on the team that has an ERA lower than five, and through only 10.1 innings of work he has an ERA of 0.00. 10.1 innings is not a lot of for a team that’s played 24 games, so calling him the ace of the staff is probably a reach. Junior Corey Chaffins is without a doubt the workhorse of the staff having thrown two complete games in only six starts. He has faced 171 batters in 42.2 innings pitched, and what’s even more remarkable is that the next closest stat line is from Jordan Glover’s 110 batters faced in 25.1 innings pitched. Chaffins has an ERA of 5.48 however and a WHIP of 1.47, which actually is not a terrible whip but not a great one. Brett Cisper (7.71 ERA, 2.20 WHIP) is the team’s closer, having collected four saves already. This staff looks shaky which can only mean good things for a Bowling Green team that’s looking to bounce back from a sub-par weekend series versus NIU.


Even though Eastern has just about as good of a record as any other MAC team, they shouldn’t end up at the top of the league if their lack of pitching continues. If Bowling Green can play good defense this weekend they should be able to score 8+ runs in every game, meaning this should be a sweep for the Falcons. Let me restate that, if Bowling Green is going to be a legitimate contender at the top of the MAC then they need to at least take two in Ypsilanti if not sweep the series.


Bowling Green will take two out of the three games this weekend, and improve their record to 9-12-1 overall and 3-3 in conference.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mac Opener: Northern Illinois Homestand

Well, this is not the way Bowling Green would've liked to start MAC play. The Falcons let errors both defensively and on the base paths kill their chance at winning the series this weekend versus Northern Illinois. Here are the scores of the games this weekend.

By the way, the picture for this post is of the 1959 White Sox jerseys, aka the jerseys that NIU decided to replicate this season. The only difference is the hat says NIU not SOX on the hat. It was awesome for a geek like me.

Bowling Green: 5
Northern Illinois: 6

Game 1
Bowling Green: 7
Northern Illinois 2

Game 2
Bowling Green: 5
Northern Illinois: 8

Game One
- My first thought yesterday was, "Wow, this is a better than expected attendance in the stands for the first home series of the year. People really want baseball around here, which is really nice." Ultimately though I'm pretty sure the fans would've been better off staying at home with the poor defensive performance BG put up.

- Unfortunately for Bowling Green the offense couldn't help save the defense and the ridiculous errors that occurred in the field Friday. The infield booted ball after ball, committing four errors during the game. In fact, the first five runs were unearned which in a backwards way helped Brennan Smith work his ERA down. Way too many errors for a team looking to compete for another MAC regular season crown.

- Another killer for Bowling Green is how many people they left on base. They left nine runners stranded on base Friday and pretty much just couldn't pull through. This is a team that will have to score eight or nine at least every time out if they are to guarantee themselves a win. LOB is a statistic that was way too high to win this series against NIU.

Game Two (Game 1 of the Double Header)
- First off, congratulations Michael Frank on earning your first ever collegiate baseball game. The kid pitches like Mark Buehrle, nice and fast paced and he pitches to contact. He will throw strikes so if you don't hit him early, your going to fall behind in the count. This game showed the potential Bowling Green has if they can play good defense behind the pitching staff.

- The offense can and probably will score 6+ runs every game so I'm willing to bet when BG makes two or less errors this year they will have a winning record.

- Jon Berti (three hits), Matthew Pitzulo (two RBIs), and Dennis Vaughn (two RBIs) all had great days at the plate.

- 48th round pick of the Cleveland Indians Troy White of NIU flashed some serious leather at third today, making at least three Web Gem-esque plays. He also stole a base this game. Kid projects to a second base in the majors and is a legitimate player.

- Michael Frank will be one of those consistant pitchers that BG will be able to rely on for the next four years. He might not have the best stuff on the staff, or even have close to the best stuff, but he's just a good solid pitcher who knows how to throw a good game.

Game Three (Game 2 of the Double Header)
- By far the most frustrating game I've seen in person so far. Bowling Green left 17 runners stranded on the base paths today... Seventeen! BG tagged starting pitcher Jeremy Gonzales of NIU to the tune of four runs in the first inning... then didn't score again until the 7th inning. That is frustration at its worst.

- Three more booted balls by BG and that was enough to give NIU enough chances to win the game.

- Extra innings and double headers don't mix well. I was ready for a nap during the 10th inning.

- TJ 'Towering Jacks' Blanton Blasted a ball that cleared the wall well into the fairway on the 16th hole behind the stadium was about one foot left foul pole. The fact that TJ ended up grounding out after that absolutely killed the spirit of the BG dugout.

- If Bowling Green could just convert offensively... or just play good defense for a full 9+ innings they would be such a dangerous team. Bowling Green has a chance to still win the regular season, but they have to figure out their defensive alignment... quickly.

- Troy White of NIU had a great game at the plate and justified his draft selection even more so this weekend. He was without a doubt the most impressive player on the field between the two teams this weekend.

- Right fielder Mark Galvin made some amazing catches today where he had to run full speed into the bullpen and make a catch. Once he even had to avoid a bullpen catcher.

If Bowling Green can pull their defense together, this is a team that is fixing to go on a winning streak. If the defense, mainly the infield, can't pull their act together this is a sub-.500 MAC baseball team. The club will hit the ball but at times plays defense like Jose Canseco.

What's Next?
Weekday game at Dayton and weekend series at Eastern Michigan. I'm not going to post previews for mid-week games so I can focus on the weekend series teams, but I will be posting other nuggets of statistical goodness this week so keep on the lookout.

Shameless Plug
- During any of the home games for BG, visit the 2010 Gameday Central link at the BGSU Baseball site and follow along at the bottom of the page with me as I do a live blog. We had over 20 people today!

- Also, please become a fan of Roll Along Baseball on facebook!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MAC Preview for Bowling Green

Well, I just spent the day typing up a preview of Bowling Green for collegebaseball360.com. So, here is my preview of the BG baseball team for the MAC season.


Record 6-8-1

Team totals

Offense .321 AVG./12 HR/111 RBI/.395 OBP/.472 SLG

Defense 7.02 ERA/3 S/89 SO/69 BB/.315 BA

Expected rotation: Brennan Smith, Michael Frank, Kevin Leady

Key players: CF T.J. Blanton, SS Jon Berti, RP Ross Gerdeman

Weakness: Starting Pitching

Strength: Run Scoring Ability

The Bowling Green State University baseball team is coming into conference play this season trying to ready themselves for a run at a third straight MAC Regular Season crown. Going into MAC play, the Falcons are 6-9-1 with a weekend sweep of Eastern Kentucky being the bright spot so far. The offense has been what has powered Bowling Green so far and kept the team in almost every game. Getting On-Base has not been a problem for Bowling Green, maintaining a .395 OBP with the team batting average being a superb .321. Along with those stats the Falcons have amassed a gaudy .472 slugging percentage. Stud senior T.J. Blanton has six of the nine home runs hit so far by the Falcons along with a team high 19 of the 111 RBI’s recorded.

Unfortunately for Coach Danny Schmitz, the pitching staff has staggered through the non-conference portion of the schedule. While reliever Ross Gerdeman has amassed a 1.42 ERA over 19 innings pitched, the team as a whole have combined for an underwhelming 7.02 ERA. The staff have struck out 89 and walked 69 in 132 innings pitched and given up a .315 BAA.

Bowling Green has played a tough non-conference schedule so far, going to Kentucky on three separate weekend series to play Louisville, Kentucky, and Eastern Kentucky. The team lost the first six games of the season before going down to Florida during spring break, where they were able to defeat Northeastern for the first win of the season. The squad was only able to play five games out of the eight scheduled due to rain, but went 3-1-1 over those five games.

Offensively the Falcons should be able to slug it out with any team that comes their way in-conference, they have scored seven or more runs in 10 of the 16 games played so far. T.J. Blanton is a player to look out for and will be in contention for player of the year in the MAC conference. The senior belted four home runs in the Eastern Kentucky series, all on the same day during a double-header. The 2009 Academic All-MAC selection has a .895 slugging % so far and is hitting .456. Speedy lead off hitter Jon Berti leads the team with 10 stolen bases in 12 attempts, with Blanton the only other player on the team who has attempted to steal more than three stolen bases, swiping seven bags in nine attempts.

If Bowling Green is to win their third straight MAC Regular Season title, it is the pitching staff that will be the key for that is the most glaring weakness. The starting rotation consists of Brennan Smith, Michael Frank, and Kevin Leady, whose combined average ERA is a 7.10 over 63 innings pitched. The bullpen is led by Ross Gerdeman and Patrick Martin who have given up a combined seven runs in 31.2 innings of relief. For as potent as the bats have been for Bowling Green, the pitching has been just as shaky having allowed a .408 OBP and collected a WHIP of 1.81 so far.

Expectations for the season are to keep the ball rolling and win yet another regular season crown. However, with teams like Kent State in the mix this year will be a tough one. The team has the offense to compete in the MAC, but it will be the pitching that will determine fate of this year’s team.

-David Arnold

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Home Opener: CMU

First off, I am the blogger for Bowling Green baseball's athletic department, so during games if you go to the website click on the link for the game. The link should be to a live blog that should look something like this. Come join me for all the home games!

Well, today was a defensive struggle for Bowling Green while Central had no complaints, capitalizing by scoring eight runs in the first five innings.

Bowling Green: 7
Central Michigan: 12

Game Recap
- Bowling Green threw out to the mound to start the game freshman right-handed pitcher Cody Apthorpe. Unfortunately for Apthorpe, he had a lot of trouble hitting the strike zone today. His stat line for the day was brutal, in three innings pitched he gave up six runs, only four of which were earned, off of five hits. He had three walks and only two strikeouts.

- Bowling Green threw seven pitchers today, all except for one went for at least a full inning. Today was just a day to get a lot of guys work to be prepared for the weekend home series against NIU.

- The most distressing part of today though were the errors, both defensively and baserunning. Only seven of CMU's twelve runs were earned, and BG had three critical defensive errors, all of which leading to runs being scored by the Chippewas. In fact, that's a tied game if BG played a perfect defensive game.

- Baserunning errors killed BG too, in particular there were two crucial errors on the same play that killed the Falcons best chance at coming back. Down 12-6 in the seventh inning the Falcons had runners on second and third with no outs when Clay Duncan ripped a shot down to the third baseman. The runner at third took off for home when he probably should of stayed, and the third baseman threw out the runner at home, but the worst part was when the runner at second couldn't decide whether to stay at second or try to get to third but ended up getting caught in between. The double play absolutely killed the rally for BGSU and pretty much ended the game right then and there.

- TJ Blanton continued his hitting hot streak today going two for three with one RBI.

- Taylor Rhoades had his first collegiate hit today.

A home opening win against a conference opponent (even though it was out-of-conference) would've been nice but it was by no means necessary. This was game five of eight in nine days so today was just a game where pitching was just too thin to win. At least Bowling Green got some good reps in on the home turf, the fans got to watch the ball fly off the bat, and now the attention focuses on the start of the MAC season (officially) with Northern Illinois (5-14, 0-0). I will be hoping to post a preview of Northern Illinois by tomorrow night or Friday at the latest.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preview: Central Michigan University

Opponent: Central Michigan University (7-8, 0-0)
Place: Bowling Green, Ohio
Time: 3 p.m.

Just to be clear. CMU is in the MAC, but this is not an in-conference game. This is a tune up for both teams, as they both start up games this weekend that do count as conference games.

So lets size up the two teams.

Common Opponents?
- BG won the match up between the two teams 3-1 in a pitching duel between two offensive-minded teams. This was the only win for BG where they scored less than seven runs.

- CMU played Butler the day after BG did and lost the game 9-14. Central jumped on top in the beginning scoring eight in the first two innings, then failed to muster anymore than one more run the rest of the game. The most intriguing stat from the box score? Attendance at the game. 67 persons.

NDSU and Indiana were supposed to be other common opponents, but rain outs for BGSU ruined that. CMU lossed both games by the way.

Advantage? BGSU


Batting Average
BG: .319 (Matthew Pitzulo, .480)
CMU: .258 (Billy Anderson, .355)

Extra Base Hits
BG: 46 (TJ Blanton, 5 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR)
CMU: 39 (Billy Anderson, 7 2B, 1 HR)

Slugging %
BG: .476 (TJ Blanton, .900)
CMU: .365 (Billy Anderson, .516)

On Base %
BG: .393 (Matthew Pitzulo, .552)
CMU: .340 (Billy Anderson, .444)

Advantage? BGSU

Pitching and Defense

Earned Run Average:
BG: 6.81 (Ross Gerdeman, 1.50)
CMU: 4.65 (Rick Dodridge, 1.93)

XBH Allowed
BG: 50
CMU: 39

BG: 1.74
CMU: 1.56

BG: 29
CMU: 21

Fielding %
BG: .944
CMU: .964

Advantage? CMU

After a completely scientific look at these two teams, it can safely be said that Bowling Green wins by hitting, hitting, hitting. Central is much more balanced of a team, and has not been that great at the plate this spring, at least compared to BG. I doubt neither team will use any dominating pitchers tomorrow, so the key will be errors. Who will make the key errors at key moments? Unfortunately for BG they average 1.9 errors a game while CMU averages 1.4 so that is an advantage for CMU.

However! Central's two highest scoring games this year however have both come against inferior NAIA teams in Davenport University and Concordia University, so CMU's offensive numbers might be slightly inflated.

Predicted Score:
BG: 14
CMU: 9

West Virginia Mid-Week

West Virginia met with Bowling Green in Chillicothe, Ohio today for a quick mid-week game.

West Virginia: 10
Bowling Green: 7
Box Score (None as of yet, only a game recap from WVU)

Quick Hits:

- This win put WVU above .500 for the first time all season.

- I don't know how good WVU is, or if this means anything, but WVU went 3-1 in a 4 game series this past weekend, but the game they lost they ended up losing the game 23-0.... uh.... whoops?

It's a loss, but it's a mid-week game, after three huge wins vs. WKU. And it's against a Big East Team. Gotta take this one with a grain of salt. In other news the home opener is tomorrow against Central Michigan!
Bowling Green has a chance to break .500 for the first time this season with a win tomorrow and two wins this weekend. I doubt BG will use any of the starting rotation tomorrow, and a preview will be coming up soon tonight.

Invasion of Kentucky! (Part 3)

First off I would like to apologize, my schedule since I've been back from spring break has been brutal! But, I work with the Athletic Department and I'm scheduled to work every home game from now on. My focus this year is going to be the home games and keep you updated with other stuff when I can.

Hopefully I'll get a response for an interview with Head Coach Schmitz soon if I'm lucky (fingers crossed).

Quick recap of the last four games before the the preview of the home-opener which is tomorrow!

First off, BG earned a sweep of Western Kentucky! Three wins in two days!

Bowling Green: 11
Western Kentucky: 9

Game 1
Bowling Green: 19
Western Kentucky: 10

Game 2
Bowling Green: 7
Western Kentucky: 6

Quck Hits:
- 2009 ESPN Academic All-American TJ Blanton had career highs when he went 4-5, belted three home runs, and had seven rbi's in game one of the double header saturday.

-37 runs by BG in a three game series just backs up what BG has done so far, proving that offense is what wins games for BG, not the defensive side.

- Unfortunately, of the 19 runs scored by BG in the first game of the double header Saturday, only 10 of them were earned. And seven of them were driven in by the the Falcons #9 hitter(!?) Blanton.

-Western Kentucky made a lot of errors defensively... to the tune of 11 errors in three games... maybe the home score keeper was a pitcher when he played...?

- Only four errors by Bowling Green during the whole series. Finally some good defense! In fact, rumor has it Blanton not only had three home runs but he also robbed WKU of one.

- BG won in the state of Kentucky! It took until game seven but hey. It's nice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break: Baseball Players & Witches Melt In The Rain

Well, Bowling Green didn't end on a five-game winning streak like I had hoped, but they did end up with a three game non-losing streak! Unfortunately for the Falcons though, their spring break trip to the Sunshine state ended with, well, a lack of sunshine.

I'll give short recaps of the Sacrad Heart and Yale games and links to the box scores. Unfortunately, the links are to the other team's websites, but for some reason BG's site doesn't have box scores.

Bowling Green: 16
Sacred Heart: 10

Dennis Vaughn led the hit-fest last Tuesday by belting the ball for three hits and five rbi's, he also crossed home plate himself two times. Both teams had high lob numbers (BG: 10 SHU: 9) but also scored a ton of runs. Bowling Green had a nice comfortable lead after four innings, winning 16-5 at that point, so the fact they gave up 10 runs for the whole game might be a little decieving. Considering it was the fourth game in as many days, the pitching depth was probably starting to wain a bit because no pitcher for BG went past 2.2 innings on the day.

Good win. Rough day for SHU's Matt Fitton, as his 6'9" inch frame wasn't intimidating enough to stop BG from running up his tab for the day. The guy finished with a stat line that looked like this...

IP: 2.2 H: 10 R: 11 ER: 11 BB: 4 SO: 0 BF: 22

That is rough! No strikeouts in 22 faced batters? That's a team that must've been short on pitching because who lets a pitcher give up 11 earned runs before pulling him? Good job stepping on a team's throat and not letting up. Good win, although unfortunately it would be the last victory for BG before heading back up to Ohio.

Updates Coming

Hey sorry guys, I just spent the last few days at my girlfriends house where we had no internet connection, and I also spent Saturday interviewing for a couple of internships with the Akron Aeros so it's been pretty busy.

So by the end of tomorrow hopefully I'll have:

-Updates on the rest of spring break.

-Data about tomorrow's oppenent for BG's first home game! (3 pm vs. Findlay)

It's looking like the spring break trip ended on a wet note, the last three games were cancelled due to the massive amount of rain everyone got this past week.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring Break Baseball: Butler University

Today was a matchup of two teams with bad records playing each other in what should have been another high scoring affair. Butler (2-5) had given up 7+ runs in every single game up until today. Bowling Green (2-7, 0-0) had given up 6+ runs in every game except two so far. So when the teams engaged in a pitchers duel, it was quite a surprise for both clubs.

Bowling Green: 3
Butler: 1
Box Score (Not Posted Yet)

Senior Kevin Leady led the Falcons, striking out eight on the day. Ross Gerdeman recorded his first ever save on the day and Bowling Green came through with a tough, gritty win for the first time all season.

This is the type of grind-it-out win BG has to come through with as the season progresses. No qualms here about the lack of offense because that hasn't been an issue at all this year, it's been the pitching and defense that's slowed BG down. Without the box score I can't say for sure, but the defense and pitching must of been superb today. Good win. Five game winning streak to end spring break here we come!

Spring Break Baseball: Rhode Island

Hey, I've got an idea... we're 1-6... let's play a team that's 0-7! Surely that'll give us a win right? Well, if BG was thinking that, they sure didn't play like it. Rhode Island got their first win of the season in a dramatic fashion during a offensive showcase Sunday.

Rhode Island: 9
Bowling Green: 8

Rhode Island came out swinging a hot bat and went up 5-0 through the first four and a half innings of ball. Over the next two and a half innings though BG stormed back and took an 8-6 lead which they had until the 9th inning. An error here and a hit there and before ya know it Rhode Island had a 9-8 lead which proved too much for BG at the end of the day.

These are the type of games Bowling Green must be able to pull out come late May if they want to have a chance to go to the NCAA's this season. It's starting to become a trend that BG can't win the tight ones, and that's something that starts to stick with a team. But hey, five more games over break so that means there's a possibility to go 6-1 and get to one game under .500!

One Last Cool Thing
Since this is probably the last we'll see of Rhode Island for a while, I thought I'd share this really sweet video from the URI baseball site. This is the kind of stuff BG needs to do, because if I was a ballplayer I would go suit up for that coach no matter where he coached.

Spring Break Baseball: Northeastern

Over spring break Bowling Green baseball will play seven games in eight days. They started off this week by playing Northeastern University this past Saturday, and finally broke through with the first win of the season.

Bowling Green: 13
Northeastern: 9

I don't have a box score yet as neither BG or NU have posted it yet, but I'll post it asap.

Quick Recap: The game was a back and forth battle and BG ace Brennan Smith was roughed up a bit but seniors Logan Meisler and T.J. Blanton had huge games and had key hits that allowed Smith to escape with a win. Seven of the eleven Falcons that played crossed the plate in the win, with Meisler scoring four times himself.

Monkey is off the back for the Falcons, as they win the first game of their seven game Florida road trip. Pitching and defense was a little shaky, but hey, a win is a win. The offense stepped up and hit well all game long. No matter what, this can be nothing but a positive step for BG, and hopefully they can carry it into the next few games.

Invasion of Kentucky! (Part 2)

So after being swept by Louisville in the first weekend of Bowling Green's "Invasion of Kentucky!" the second weekend brought another tough quality opponent in The University of Kentucky. The weekend before the Wildcats had beaten three quality opponents, Virginia Tech (15-6), West Virginia (6-0), and Coastal Carolina (3-2). Unfortunately for the Falcons, the weekend dealt with another trio of tough losses.

Game 1
Kentucky: 6
Bowling Green: 4

Game 1
Kentucky: 4
Bowling Green: 3

Game 1
Kentucky: 10
Bowling Green: 4

Well, losing your first six games is not a good way to start a season, and at least winning one of these games would've been nice but Kentucky is a heck of a ball club. As of today the team is 9-1 and ranked 23rd in the nation, with the only loss coming against the Tony Gwynn-led San Diego State ball club.

Bowling Green was not expected to win either series in Kentucky over the first two weekends, but winning at least one game would've been nice. Good experience for the MAC season though.

Invasion of Kentucky! (Part 1)

Bowling Green started out their season this year taking on two well-established baseball teams from the state of Kentucky, and started off playing Louisville (birthplace of yours truly) in a three game series, with a single game played on Friday and a double-header Saturday.

The results were as followed,

Game 1
Louisville: 13
Bowling Green: 1

Game 1
Louisville: 5
Bowling Green: 2

Game 2 (F/10)
Louisville: 8
Bowling Green: 7

As I'm writing this Louisville is currently 11-0 this season, and ranked 8th in the nation. They have outscored opponents by a combined score of 85 - 35, so aside from our opening 13-1 loss, these can be considered good losses (if there is such a thing). As a matter of fact, the seven runs scored by BG in game one of Saturday's double header is the most runs given up so far by the Cardinals.

All in all, playing competition like this can only help prepare the team for when the MAC season rolls around, because in all honesty there's no way Bowling Green is going to make it to the NCAA's unless they win the MAC tournament in May.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What is Roll Along Baseball?

Hey everyone,

Roll Along Baesball is a new blog that will follow Bowling Green State University and MAC baseball as the 2010 NCAA baseball season progresses. My goal is to provide information to whoever wants to read it, even if BG's fanbase is not as large as other schools.

I know the season has already started, but over the next week I hope to post the following information:

- Results for the first three weekends that have/will have occured.

- Introduce players by class.

- Post schedule for rest of year.

I will be attending hopefully every home baseball game (school work permitted) and provide in-depth coverage on those games.

I think this could be a lot of fun, so for you BG fans,

Roll Along!