What's On Tap . . .
Ball State returns to action this weekend as it hosts Mid-American Conference rival Western Michigan in a pivotal three-game series at Ball Diamond ... The three-game set will be the final home games of the regular season for the Cardinals who end the year with seven straight on the road ... The Cardinals and Broncos will play Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. ... Ball State and Western Michigan are battling for a spot in the 2012 MAC Tournament ... The Broncos enter the weekend in the tournament as the seventh seed with a 7-10 mark while the Cardinals are just on the outside looking in with a 6-12 league record.
Ball State will also recognize four seniors prior to Sunday's home finale as Ross Overstreet, Tim Issler, Mitch Widau and Cal Bowling will be honored in senior day activities ... Live stats will be available at www.ballstatesports.com/livestats ... Additionally, updates will be posted on Twitter @BallUBaseball.
Probable Starting Pitchers . . .
Ball State will send the same rotation for the third straight weekend as right-hander T.J. Weir gets the call Friday, right-hander Chris Marangon Saturday and right-hander Jacob Brewer Sunday ... Western Michigan will counter with left-hander Casey Webber Friday, left-hander Steve Laudicina Saturday and right-hander Will Nimke Sunday.
Weir will be making his 12th appearance and 11th start of the season Friday afternoon ... He has a 2-7 record with a 5.61 ERA in a team-high 59.1 innings of work as he has struck out 47 while walking 20 ... Last weekend, he was charged with a loss at Toledo despite working 7.0 solid innings and allowing four runs, only two of which were earned, while striking out seven batters.
Marangon will be making his 17th appearance and seventh start of the season Saturday ... He has a 1-5 record with a 4.15 ERA and two saves in 52.0 innings of work as he has struck out 24 batters while walking 24 ... He was charged with a loss last weekend against the Rockets despite posting his first career complete game allowing three runs, two earned, in 8.0 innings.
Brewer will be making his 14th appearance and seventh start of the season Sunday afternoon ... He has an 0-4 record with a 6.05 ERA in 38.2 innings of work while striking out 21 and walking 18 ... Last weekend, he lasted just 3.1 innings and allowed seven runs, four earned, on eight hits.
Webber will be making his 12th start of the season Friday afternoon ... He brings a 2-4 record with a 4.06 ERA in a team-high 62.0 innings of work as he has struck out 40 and walked 24 batters ... Last weekend against Kent State, he allowed nine runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work as KSU posted an 18-6 victory.
Laudicina will also be making his 12th start of the season Saturday afternoon ... He has a 4-4 record with a 3.99 ERA in 58.2 innings of work while striking out 31 and walking 25 ... Last weekend against KSU, he picked up the loss despite working 7.2 innings and allowing four runs, only one earned, on just four hits.
Nimke will be making his 12th appearance and ninth start of the season Sunday ... He has a 2-3 record with a 3.95 ERA in 43.1 innings of work while striking out 22 and walking 16 ... He also was saddled with a loss to the Golden Flashes last weekend as he allowed three runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings of work.
Series History . . .
Ball State and Western Michigan have met 153 times prior to this weekend's three-game series ... The Cardinals trail the all-time series by an 89-64 margin and have dropped four straight to the Broncos, including a three-game sweep last season in Muncie ... Prior to last year's series, the Cardinals' owned a 13-4 record over the Broncos since 2004.
Last year, Western Michigan opened the weekend with an 18-6 victory Friday ... The Broncos and Cardinals settled in for two close contests with the Broncos recording a 2-0 victory Saturday before posting the sweep Sunday with a 5-4 12-inning victory ... Second baseman Mitch Widau led the Cardinals offensively with five hits and four RBI on the weekend as he posted a .533 on-base percentage ... Right fielder Blake Beemer drove in three runs on the weekend ... The Cardinals recorded seven errors on the weekend allowing WMU to score 12 unearned runs in the series.
Western Michigan was led offensively by Ryan McMillan who tallied five hits, drove in seven runs and hit a pair of home runs on the weekend ... Casey Webber led the WMU pitching staff with 7.1 shutout innings Saturday allowing just four runs while Troy Forton working 5.2 innings of shutout relief on the weekend.
Coaching Comparison . . .
Ball State head coach Alex Marconi enters his second season at the helm ... Marconi posted a 15-35 record last year after working for five years as an assistant coach for BSU under former head coach Greg Beals (Ohio State).
Western Michigan is led by second-year head coach Billy Gernon, the former head coach at IPFW ... Gernon led WMU to a 26-31 record last season which was a 14-game improvement from the year prior to his arrival.
Scouting The Cardinals . . .
Ball State enters the weekend with an 11-29 overall record and a 6-12 mark in Mid-American Conference play ... The Cardinals were swept last weekend at Toledo and had off during the midweek for final exams ... Ball State has scored 154 runs (3.85 runs/game) while posting a .237 team batting average ... Opponents have scored 291 runs (7.28 runs/game) while recording a .297 batting average as a team.
Sophomore Sean Godfrey leads the team with a .288 batting average overall and a .378 mark in MAC play ... Godfrey has missed the past five games due to an injury ... He has posted 32 hits and 11 RBI while leading the team with 21 runs scored and 11 stolen bases ... Senior Mitch Widau is second on the team with a .280 batting average ... Widau is tied for the team lead with 19 RBI while ranking second with 35 hits ... Junior Wes Winkle and sophomore T.J. Weir are tied for the team lead with 37 hits while Weir also is tied for the team lead with 19 RBI.
In the bullpen, left-hander Devin Wilburn has appeared in 15 games and has a 6.05 ERA in 19.1 innings of work ... Fellow southpaw Jon Cisna has appeared in 14 games and has a 7.63 ERA in 15.1 innings ... Right-hander Scott Baker has made 13 appearances with a 6.30 ERA in 30.0 innings of work.
Scouting The Broncos . . .
Western Michigan enters the weekend with a 17-24 overall record and a 7-10 mark in Mid-American Conference play ... The Broncos have dropped five straight games, including a midweek loss to Chicago State ... Western Michigan opened MAC play with five straight wins but is 2-10 since the first two weekends ... The Broncos have scored 206 runs (5.0 runs/game) while posting a .285 batting average ... Opponents have scored 269 runs (6.6 runs/game) and is batting .303 as a team.
Troy Forton leads the team with a .344 batting average in 24 games this season ... Ryan McMillin has played all 41 games and has a .325 batting average ... McMillin leads the team in hits (54), doubles (14), home runs (5) and RBI (34) ... Patrick Duncan has a .321 batting average and is second on the team with 52 hits and 31 RBI.
In the bullpen, Patrick Borlik leads the team with 23 appearances and has five saves ... Borlik owns a 3.26 ERA in 38.1 innings of work while posting a 5-3 record ... Monty Porter has appeared in 22 games and has a 5.49 ERA in 39.1 innings of work ... Chris Bossenberry is second on the team with two saves but has a 9.00 ERA in 25.0 innings of work in 16 appearances.
Senior Day . . .
The Cardinals will recognize a quartet of seniors prior to Sunday's series finale in Ross Overstreet, Tim Issler, Mitch Widau and Cal Bowling ... The four players have combined to play in 301 games entering the weekend, including 233 starts.
Overstreet has played two seasons for the Cardinals, making nine appearances out of the bullpen this year ... Issler has played in 106 career games with 76 starts, posting a .281 batting average in his career.
Widau, a former walk-on, has played in 131 career games with 114 starts mostly at second base ... He has a .294 career batting average ... Bowling has appeared in 55 games with 43 starts on the mound ... He owns a 17-11 record with a 4.97 ERA ... He has pitched 260.2 innings in his career with five career complete games.
Looking Ahead . . .
Ball State will play its final non-conference game of the regular season Wednesday afternoon as it travels to Valparaiso for a 3 p.m. (CT) first pitch ... The game starts the Cardinals' seven-game road swing to close out the regular season.