Conference Play Begins Friday

Updated 3/23/2012
Ball State (3-12, 0-0 MAC) at Akron (6-13, 0-0 MAC) 
Friday, March 23 3 p.m
Saturday, March 24 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m.
The Zips are coming off a 4-4 spring break swing through Florida last week and a doubleheader split at West Virginia on Tuesday.  Sophomores Brady Stewart and Tyler Begun are both hitting over .400 in the last ten games. Stewart is batting .444, while Begun is hitting .436 with 10 RBI, 10 runs scored, and 3 home runs.  Ball State has been strong recently in MAC opening series as the Cardinals are 16-5 over the past seven seasons.  Ball State enters the weekend with a 3-12 record after dropping all three games at No. 21 Louisville last weekend.  Ball State has scored 55 runs this season and owns a .248 batting average while opponents have scored 113 runs and boast a .301 batting average.

Buffalo (6-9, 0-0 MAC) at Central Michigan (9-12, 0-0 MAC)
Friday, March 23 3 p.m
Saturday, March 24 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m.
Despite the frustrating losses, Buffalo had numerous bright spots, none more important than the team's weekend starting pitching. Cameron Copping, Kevin Hughes and Jeff Thompson combined to allow just seven earned runs in 17.1 innings of work, striking out a combined 18 batters while allowing just two walks. Copping currently leads the conference with a 12.43 K/9, and his 29 overall strikeouts are third most among MAC pitchers.  This season, the Bulls are batting a conference-high .336 as a team and have 10 players who have started in at least a third of the team's games that are batting over .300.  According to the NCAA's annual baseball record book, the Central Michigan baseball program ranks 26th on the list of all-time winningest programs with a minimum of 25 years in Division I.  Starting all 21 games at shortstop, Jordan Dean leads the team in average (.370), at-bats (92), runs scored (20), hits (34), triples (2), RBI (17), total bases (50), slugging percentage (.543), on-base percentage (.431) and is tied for the team lead with five stolen bases.

Bowling Green (8-12, 0-0 MAC) at Western Michigan (7-10, 0-0 MAC)
Friday, March 23 3 p.m
Saturday, March 24 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m.
The Falcons and Broncos have played each other 130 times in program history. The Falcons have a record of 56-74 heading into the weekend series with the Broncos.  After scoring 54 runs in the first 15 games of the season (4-11 record), the Falcon bats have heated up, scoring 68 runs in the last five (4-1).  So far, the Falcons have nine players with at least 30 at-bats who are hitting over .300. Last year, the Falcons only had two players with at least 30 at-bats finish with batting averages above .300.  After playing its first 17 games on the road, Western Michigan hosts Bowling Green in its home-opening weekend.  WMU has a .289 team batting average and a staff ERA of 5.58.  Senior 3B Ryan McMillin and sophomore LF Vinnie Booker are both riding career-best 11-game hitting streaks, while senior 1B Troy Forton is on an eight-game streak.  

Miami (12-9, 0-0 MAC) at Eastern Michigan (6-13, 0-0 MAC)
Friday, March 23 3 p.m
Saturday, March 24 3 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m.
Miami was picked second in the MAC East Division in the preseason poll, while the Eagles were tabbed third on the West side.  Sophomore catcher John Crummy continues to lead Miami at the plate, batting .397 and driving in 20 run, tied for the team lead.  On the mound, RedHawk pitchers hold a 5.73 ERA, but have struck out 138 batters, compared to 62 walks.  According to the latest NCAA composite statistics released March 19, the Eagles' 13 triples are tied for the best total in the nation. The Eagles share the top spot with No. 6 Arizona and Arkansas-Little Rock. Bo Kinder has legged out a MAC-best four triples so far this season and trails only VCU's Bill Cullen (6) for top spot in the nation.  In 19 games, the Eagles have drawn a MAC-best 98 walks for an average of 5.2 free passes per contest. The closest challenger to the Eagles' walk total in the conference is Central Michigan (77).

Northern Illinois (5-16, 0-0 MAC) at Kent State (8-10, 0-0 MAC)
Friday, March 23 3 p.m
Saturday, March 24 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m.
NIU is on a three-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents 20-10 in that time frame.  Northern Illinois is 17-11 in Mid-American Conference opening series under Ed Mathey and are 5-4 in MAC series-openers.  The Golden Flashes claim a 110-37 mark at Schoonover for a winning percentage of .748. Kent State is 4-3 in home openers at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.  Starn will be making his first start in a home opener on Friday and is 4-2 in 19 career appearances at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. He is 10-2 in conference play with 115 strikeouts.

Ohio (9-10, 0-0 MAC) at Toledo (8-11, 0-0 MAC)
Friday, March 23 3 p.m
Saturday, March 24 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 1 p.m.
The Bobcats Earned Run Average of 2.81 is the best in the Mid-American Conference, entering this week.  In his last three starts, senior Brent Choban has posted a .0.84 ERA and has logged 21.1 innings during that stretch.  The Bobcats are batting .317 as a team in their last five games and have outscored their opponents by a count of 34-14.  The Rockets went 13-2 (.867) at home in 2011 and sport a 70-43 (.619) ledger at the corner of Parkside Blvd. and Hill Ave. over the last six-plus seasons.  Eight of Toledo’s first 19 games this spring has been decided by two runs or less, with the Midnight Blue & Gold holding a 4-4 mark in those contests. UT senior OF Ben Hammer collected a RBI single in ninth frame to lift the Midnight Blue & Gold to a 3-2 victory over Oakland in its home opener on Wednesday.