Ben Eshleman

JP's Weekly Walk-Off: Ball State

The Beavers play host to Mid America Conference contender Ball State in their final non-conference action before commencing Pac-12 play at Arizona State next weekend.  The trip to Corvallis will mark the end of a grueling 16-game road trip for the Cardinals, but one that thus far has been rather successful.

THE WEEK THAT WAS

The weather threw a bit of on unfortunate curveball in terms of setting up the starting rotation for this weekend via the Friday rainout, but considering the forecast heading into the weekend and the rain that did fall, it is hard not to feel fortunate that the weather didn’t disrupt play any more than it did.

·         Saturday (1):  OSU 4 – UC Davis 0

·         Saturday (2): OSU 14 – UC Davis 2

·         Sunday:  OSU 4 – UC Davis 1

·         Tuesday: OSU vs. Portland – Rained Out

THE WEEK AHEAD

Game Times:

  • Thursday: OSU (RHP Fehmel 1-1, 4.09) vs. Ball State (RHP Butler 1-1, 1.45) 5:35pm
  • Friday: OSU (LHP Heimlich 2-0, 0.44) vs. Ball State (RHP Marquardt 2-1, 2.76 ) 5:35pm  
  • Saturday (1): OSU (RHP Tweedt 3-0, 2.16) vs. Ball State (RHP Brockhouse 2-1, 1.04) 1:35pm
  • Saturday (2): OSU (RHP Thompson 3-0, 1.45) vs. Ball State (LHP Marnon 2-1, 3.57) 4:35pm 

Notes:

  • Neither team announced their intended starters, so the above listings are simply my guesses.
  • Ball State opened the season with 3 games in Florida, moved up the coast to South Carolina for 4 games, returned to Florida for 5 games, and now they head to Corvallis for 4 games.  The four games in three days in Corvallis will push the Cardinals to a stretch of 9 games in 9 days, with this past Monday and Wednesday the only off days they have had.
  • Ball State was tabbed as the favorite to win the MAC West division in the conference pre-season poll, and was generally viewed as the #2 team in the conference behind East division favorite Kent State.
  • There is no TV coverage this week, but there will be a free video stream for each game via CLICK HERE

OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • 3B Sean Kennedy: .295, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI
  • CF Matt Eppers: .293 3 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI
  • C/1B Caleb Stayton: .278, 2 2B, 6 RBI (.377, 11 HR in 2016)

Ben Eshleman
RANDOM TOPICS OF THE WEEK

A quick look at where the Beavers stand in some of the key NCAA pitching categories:

  • ERA: 2nd (Harvard sports a 1.25 mark for 1st, but has only played 4 games)
  • WHIP: 1st
  • Hits Allowed/9 IP: 9th
  • Walks Allowed/9 IP: 9th
  • Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 12th

As their ranking nationally in terms of BB/9 IP (2.27) would indicate, the Beavers have been very stingy with the free passes this season.  Considering the weather last weekend, it was particularly impressive that OSU pitchers walked just 3 batters in 27 IP against UC Davis. For comparison, last season after 11 games, the Beavers had issued 45 BB (4.09/9 IP).

The bullpen has only allowed 2 earned runs (0.56 ERA) this season; both coming in the 2/24 loss to Ohio State.  Additionally, just 4 of 18 runners inherited by the relief corps have scored.

After committing 11 errors in their first 6 games, the Beavers have committed just 1 in their last five.

The early-season experimentation in the infield may have drawn to a close with the Grenier (2B), Madrigal (SS), Gretler (3B) configuration starting each of the last 4 games.

Michael Gretler has been swinging a hot bat and brings a 6-game hit streak into the weekend. Over that stretch: 9-21 (.429), 3 2B, 6 RBI.

After a slow start that saw his season average at .182 entering last weekend, Cadyn Grenier had a very productive series against UC Davis (4-10, 6 RBI, 2 3B).  While much of the season he has struggled to put base hits in the scorebook, the encouraging sign has been that Grenier has struck out just once all season.

No update on the status of Rasmussen or Hickey, but reports are Elliott Cary will miss his second consecutive series after suffering an injury crashing into the wall in the Beavers final game in Surprise, Arizona.

PARTING SHOTS AND PREDICTIONS

This series is a good one for the Beavers to use as a final tune-up before conference play commences.  While the MAC is not a baseball power conference, Ball State is a very solid team.  Their schedule has been a bit hit-or-miss – several quality opponents (Maryland, Coastal Carolina, Louisville, West Virginia), but also some really soft competition (Alabama State, George Mason, Villanova, Chicago State).  To their credit, they notched a win over Maryland, hung tough against both defending national champions Coastal Carolina and West Virginia (1-0 and 4-1 losses) and their loss to Georgetown is the only one you’d call a “bad” loss.

Offensively, as the numbers indicate, the Cardinals have not shown much firepower – particularly when you note that 50% of their runs scored came in the three games played against George Mason (x2) and Chicago State.  The Beavers honestly have not been awe inspiring offensively much of the year, but they will hold a solid edge in that department.

The strength for BSU thus far has been their depth of solid pitching both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen.  For a team that had to play five games in five days, Ball State managed to very effectively spread the pitching load around.  During the four games Friday-Sunday, they utilized 8 different relievers with none of them appearing in more than one of those games and all but two had good outings.  In their Tuesday contest they did utilize three relief pitchers for the final 4 innings of the game that pitched earlier in the weekend (one of them, interestingly was projected starter BJ Butler), so all and all, the pitching staff should be as well rested as they could realistically hope after their recent stint in Florida.

All that said, while these are young, well-conditioned athletes, you have to imagine that the fatigue of their compressed recent schedule coupled with a cross-country flight will come into play at some point this weekend.  I like the Beavs to take 3 of 4, but an OSU sweep is not out of the question by any means.

As always, if you have questions/comments/suggestions you’d like me to cover, by all means feel free to let me know either on the board or you can always e-mail me at jp@beaverblitz.com.    

NUMBERS TO GNAW ON…

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OREGON STATE

BALL STATE

Wins and Losses

Overall Record

10 – 1

8 – 4

Pac-12 Record

0 – 0

NA

Home

3 – 0

0 – 0

Away/Neutral Site

7 – 1

8 – 4

Last 5 Games

5 – 0

4 – 1

Last 10 Games

9 – 1

6 – 4

Streak

Won 5

Won 1

Offensive Stats

Runs/Game

5.91

4.83

Batting Ave.

.277

.255

OB %

.363

.362

SLG %

.392

.336

HR Per Game

0.36

0.25

Stolen Bases

10 – 13

15 – 22

Pitching Stats

Team ERA

1.36

2.72

Opponent Bat. Ave.

.195

.209

Team WHIP

0.95

1.23

K per 9 Innings

8.45

8.66

BB per 9 Innings

2.27

4.08

HR Allowed Per Game

0.36

0.17

Defensive Stats

Fielding %

.971

.969

Stolen Bases Allowed

5 – 7

13 – 17

Rankings

RPI*

26

84

SOS*

84

165

ISR*

15

101

Polls**

7 – 4 – 7 – 8 – 4

NR – NR – NR – NR

*RPI via NCAA.com - SOS via Warren Nolan - ISR via boydsworld.com

** Polls = ESPN/Coaches - Baseball Writers - D1 Baseball - Baseball America - Collegiate Baseball  [NR = Not Ranked; RV = Rec’d Votes]


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