First off, sorry this preview took so long. I had a lot of school work this week and for the next two weeks I'll be pretty backed up, so posts might be slightly sporadic. I'll still be posting the basics though at least.
How have they played?
Ball State is coming off a tough 12-6 midweek loss to Indiana Tuesday and it 11-16 overall but is 5-1 in conference play. The team is the favorite to win the MAC West this season and so far has backed up the hype taking care of Miami and Ohio, going 5-1 in the two series, two teams they are supposed to beat. The defense is good, having only committed 39 errors in 27 games played, compared to Bowling Green’s 49 errors in 24 games this season. That could play a significant factor this weekend especially since the weather might be chilly, every baserunner will be crucial. One interesting weakness though is that Ball State strikes out a lot. They are second in the MAC with 229 strikeouts so far this season. They rank in the middle of almost every other statistic in the MAC however. The relief pitching has performed very well this season, and the bullpen of Ball State gives them a direct advantage in the later innings over Bowling Green once the starting pitchers have been replaced. This is a solid team that plays to win but is not great. They just get the job done.
Up to this date Louisville is the only baseball team that has played both opponents. Bowling Green played Louisville in a very cold opening-season series in Kentucky, getting swept by the Cardinals, although the last game was an extra inning affair that the Falcons could've easily stolen. Ball State stole the last of a three game series back in the third weekend of March at Louisville. This was a quality win for Louisville as they were ranked #7 nationally at the time. There aren’t any inter-conference teams to compare these two with yet.
Kolbrin Vitek is by far and away the best hitting on the Ball State roster this season, boasting a .413 batting average in 109 at bats. He also leads the team with seven home runs, 31 RBI’s, and a whopping .716 slugging %. He is to the Cardinal lineup what TJ Blanton has been to the Falcon lineup; their stats as of today match up almost evenly. The pitching staff of Ball State has a lot of good pitchers. There really aren’t any dominating top pitchers aside of relief pitcher Morgan Coombs, who has a 2.11 ERA in five appearances and 21.1 innings pitched. That being said, the Cardinals have eight pitchers with significant (10+ IP) playing time that have an ERA under six. Meanwhile, Bowling Green only has four pitchers with such a distinction. If it counts for anything though, Justin Warrington has a 99.00 ERA in two appearances for Ball State, and hasn’t recorded one single out but has managed to walk four and allow four earned runs. Can he please pitch against Bowling Green this weekend please?
Ball State is the type of team I wish Bowling Green would play more like. Efficient defense, efficient offense, efficient pitching. Bowling Green has showed flashes of all three of these things this season… just not in the same game. Hopefully things will turn around for Bowling Green this weekend, but they have to play darned good baseball to do it. If Bowling Green wants to make the conference tournament they need to start winning conference games and weekend series.
As much as I would love for my sister on sibs and kids weekend to come down and see a Bowling Green series win, I just don’t see it happening. Ball State will win the Friday and Saturday games while Bowling Green steals the final Sunday game.