Leading Off: The Bowling Green State University baseball team will travel to Kent State this weekend for a crucial three-game set with the Golden Flashes. The Falcons, winners in seven of their last eight, will look to continue climbing the standings in the Mid-American Conference.
Schmitz Makes His Mark: In his 23rd season as the head coach at Bowling Green State University, Danny Schmitz has a career record of 602-570-5. Schmitz becamse just the third coach in Mid-American Conference history to win 600 career ballgames, with the Falcons' 14-6 win over Akron last Saturday. Schmitz, who is the second winningest active coach in the Mid-American Conference (behind Ball State's Rich Maloney), has won a school-record 36 games on two different occasions. His teams have qualified for the MAC tournament 11 times. He has been named MAC Coach of the Year on three different occasions (1994, 1995, 2009). Below are Schmitz's career milestone victories:
1st win: March 9, 1991 at Eastern Kentucky (6-3)
100th win: April 26, 1995 at Ball State (3-1)
200th win: March 6, 1999 vs. Pittsburgh (9-8 in Homestead, Fla.)
250th win: April 15, 2000 vs. Marshall (8-4)
300th win: February 17, 2002 at Tennessee (15-11)
400th win: April 29, 2005 vs. IPFW (5-0)
500th win: March 31, 2009 at Michigan (8-3)
600th win: April 20, 2013 vs. Akron (14-6)
Scouting The Golden Flashes: While Kent State has an overall record of 20-20 heading into the weekend, they enter the series just one game in front of the Falcons in the Mid-American Conference series. Scott Stricklin, who is in his ninth season at Kent State, enters the weekend with a career record of 334-185. The Golden Flashes are coming off a season in which they advanced to the NCAA Tournament and the College World Series. KSU got off to a start of just 1-9 this season. Kent State has a team batting average of .277 and an ERA of 4.43. Sawyer Polen leads the Golden Flashes' offensive attack, batting .329 in 40 starts this season. Taylor Williams, Friday's projected starting pitcher, brings a 6-1 record into the weekend.
The Series: Kent State holds a commanding lead in the series, but the Falcons took 2-of-3 in last year's MAC series. In that series, the Falcons handed the Golden Flashes their first two league losses, beating them 6-5 and 9-6 to open the series. In Sunday's finale, the two teams would score 51 combined runs, with KSU pulling out the nail-biting 31-20 win at Steller Field.
Last Weekend: Bowling Green continued their hot April, as they took 2-of-3 from the visiting Akron Zips at Steller Field. Following a Friday postponement, the Falcons defeated Akron 14-6 in Saturday's first game. The 14-6 win marked head coach Danny Schmitz's 600th career win. In Saturday's night cap, Mike Frank went a career-high eight innings, striking out a career-high eight batters, in a 5-1 win. Akron would salvage the series on Sunday with a 7-3 win over the Falcons. Kent State ran into a hot Buffalo team on the road, as the Bulls swept the Golden Flashes in Western New York.
Bruns Chasing History: Senior Nick Bruns is quickly closing in on a few significant pitching records at Bowling Green State University. Bruns, who currently ranks 5th in school history with 79 career appearances, is just 12 outings away from tying the school record. Neil Schmitz currently holds the record, with 91 career appearances from 2001-04. Bruns is also just three saves shy of tying the school record. The senior from Saint Henry, Ohio, has 14 career saves, trailing only Neil Schmitz who had 17.
Pair Of Aces: Cody Apthorpe and Mike Frank have led the Falcons to a league-best ERA of 3.62, proving all year that the Falcons don't have one ace, but two. Since MAC play has started, the two redshirt juniors have combined for seven wins. On the season, Apthorpe has an ERA of 2.24, combining for two shutouts on the year. Apthorpe has struck out 36 batters, while allowing just 14 earned runs. Frank, on the other hand, has struck out 48 batters to lead the team. He has an ERA of 3.47 in his 10 starts, accounting for the only complete game thrown by a Falcons' pitcher this season.
Bouncing Back From Injury: Captain Cody Apthorpe has bounced back from a season-ending injury in 2012. In just the second weekend of MAC play, Apthorpe was struck by a line drive in the top of the ninth against Central Michigan. Apthorpe fractured his forearm on that play, and would not make another pitch the rest of the season.
Losby Sets The Standard: With his 5-for-5 outburst in last Sunday's game against Akron, T.J. Losby has established himself at the top of most significant offensive categories for the Falcons. Leading the team as a junior captain, the Bryan, Ohio native has led on and off the field. Losby currently leads the team in batting average (.331), games started (33), games played (34), at bats (130), runs (22), RBI (27), and total bases (56).
Shay Named MAC East Player of the Week: Jeremy Shay was named as the Mid-American Conferene's East Division Player of the Week for his performance last weekend against Akron. Shay went 6-for-11 on the weekend, belting two home runs in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. Shay scored five runs and recorded five RBI on the weekend, as well.
The Home Stretch: With the Mid-American Conference Tournament just 27 days away, the Falcons continue to jockey for position. Currently sitting in a tie for 5th place with Eastern Michigan, BGSU will need to take full advantage of their remaining 12 conference games. The Falcons will travel to Kent State (Apr. 26-28) and Ohio (May 10-12), while hosting Miami (May 3-5) and Buffalo (May 16-18).
Hitting Their Stride During MAC Play: Through the first five weeks of MAC play this season, the Falcons have led the conference with a batting average of .298 in league games. The Falcons' pitching staff has posted an ERA of 3.63 in league games.
Statistical Rankings In MAC Play:
*Batting Average: 1st - Jeremy Shay (.467); 3rd - T.J. Losby (.368)
*Earned Run Average: 5th - Cody Apthorpe (2.03)
*Home Runs: 1st - Jeremy Shay (4)
*Runs Scored: 3rd - Jeremy Shay (15)
*RBI: 2nd - Jeremy Shay (16)
*Total Bases: 1st - Jeremy Shay (38)
*On-Base Percentage: 1st - Jeremy Shay (.537)
*Slugging Percentage: 1st - Jeremy Shay (.844)
*Wins: 2nd - Cody Apthorpe (4)
*Saves: 2nd - Nick Bruns (3)
Hot April: After struggling to a 6-16 record through the first month and a half of the season, the Falcons have recorded an 8-4 record during April.
MACtion: In 2012, the Falcons struggled in MAC play to a 9-18 record. However, the Falcons enter this weekend's series at Kent State just one win shy of their 2012 mark, with a MAC record of 8-7.
MAC Schedule This Weekend:
Bowling Green (8-7) at Kent State (9-6)
Ohio (5-10) at Ball State (6-9)
Buffalo (11-4) at Akron (6-9)
Eastern Michigan (8-7) at Central Michigan (6-9)
Miami (9-6) at Northern Illinois (11-4)
Toledo (6-9) at Western Michigan (5-10)