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.
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.
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.