Ball State hosts Toledo in final series of season

The three-game regular season series finale between Ball State and Toledo has been postponed Thursday due to inclement weather. The two teams will play a doubleheader Friday afternoon at Ball Diamond, with a 1 p.m. first pitch.

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Ball State’s chances of reaching the Mid-American Conference Tournament were all but washed away after it dropped two of three games to Northern Illinois last weekend.

Despite losing 11 of its last 14 games, including being swept in consecutive series’ and a 14-9 loss at Purdue on May 11, Ball State (13-34, 9-14) has a shot at penciling itself in as one of the eight tournament members.

However, the Cardinals don’t control their own destiny. They will need help from the Huskies, who take on the Broncos in a three-game series beginning Thursday in Kalamazoo, Mich.

First things first. Ball State will have to take care of business against a stout Toledo team that ranks fifth in the MAC in hits, with 466 and second in steals, with 70.

The Rockets (25-25, 14-10) are currently tied with the Huskies for third place in the West division entering the final three games of the season.

Ball State rounds out the West division, sitting two full games behind the Broncos.

Coach Alex Marconi will send his No. 1 pitcher, junior Cal Bowling (4-5, 3.46 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. Bowling will be making his team-leading 14th start of the season versus the Rockets. The right-hander has worked a team-high 80 2/3 innings this season, while striking out 46 batters to walking 29.

Bowling hasn’t been sharp over his last four starts. He’s (0-3), with a 7.57 ERA over the span, and has allowed 25 runs, 17 earned in just 20 2/3 innings of work. Another significant statistic is that Bowling has issued 10 walks to nine strikeouts over his last four outings.

In his last start-the best of his previous four-Bowling picked up a no decision against the Huskies by tossing 6 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits.

The Cardinals defense hasn’t given Bowling much support either. Eight of Bowling’s 17 earned runs over his past four outings have been unearned.

The Rockets will send junior Lincoln Rassi (3-5, 5.14 ERA) to the hill in game one. Rassi has fanned 52 hitters contrary to walking 23 on the season. The righty also picked up a no decision last weekend versus Eastern Michigan after allowing just three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Offensively, Ball State owns a .261 team batting average, which ranks near the bottom of the conference.

Junior Cody Elliot leads the Cardinals with a .323 average, 61 hits, 33 runs, 36 RBIs and 14 stolen bases this season.

The Cardinals enter a must win situation this weekend. Sound defense, timely hitting and near perfect pitching will be vital for Ball State to have any chance at seeing postseason action.

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