After taking a break for spring semester exams this past week, the Bowling Green State University baseball team will get back on the field for an important weekend series. The Falcons will play host to Miami University, who currently sits two games ahead of them in the Mid-American Conference standings. Bowling Green and Miami will begin their three-game series on Friday afternoon.
Scouting The RedHawks
Miami enters the weekend as the current fourth seed, two games ahead of the Falcons in the Mid-American Conference standings. With an overall record of 21-23 (10-8 MAC), eighth-year head coach Dan Simonds has put the RedHawks in prime position to qualify for the MAC Tournament. Jake Romano leads the ‘Hawks with a batting average of .377. Last year's MAC Freshman of the Year, Matt Honchel, has an average of .311. Honchel has played in all 44 games. As a team, the RedHawks are hitting .274 coming into the weekend. As a pitching staff, MU has an ERA of 4.81. Friday's projected starter, Brooks Fiala, has an ERA of 2.64. He has struck out 76 batters in 78.1 innings.
The Falcons and RedHawks first met on a baseball field in 1953, with the Orange and Brown taking home the 17-2 victory in Oxford. Overall, Miami leads the series 89-60. Most recently, the teams met in Oxford during the 2012 season. In that series, the Falcons won the Friday night contest, with MU bouncing back to win the final two games of the series.
The Falcons struggled in a weekend series at Kent State, losing in three straight by a combined score of 23-12. In Friday's game, the Orange and Brown committed four errors in a 10-4 setback. In Saturday's pitching duel, KSU starter Tyler Skulina was slightly better than BGSU starter Mike Frank, winning a 3-1 decision. In Sunday's series finale, KSU jumped out to a 10-4 lead, holding on for the 10-7 victory.
With three regular season starts remaining, redshirt junior Mike Frank has a chance to have one of the best seasons by a Falcon starting pitcher in recent memory. Frank has already pitched 65.2 innings this season, just 12 innings shy of the highest inning total since Charles Wooten's 77.2 innings in 2011. Frank has struck out 56 batters in his 11 starts. Frank has a chance to strike out the most batters since 2009, when Brennan Smith struck out 80 batters.
After making the Mid-American Conference Tournament the four years prior to 2012, the Falcons missed out on qualifying for the trip to Avon last season. This season, the Falcons have put themselves in position to make the tournament again, currently sitting in a four-way tie for sixth place. The Falcons still host Miami (10-8; 4th) and Buffalo (13-4; 1st), while traveling to Ohio (6-12; t-11th).
Senior Day 2013
On May 18 (Saturday) four Falcon seniors will be honored on the field before the game. Nick Bruns, Matt Pitzulo, Drew Kuns, and Fred Sharp will all be recognized for their outstanding careers wearing the Orange and Brown.
Losby Goes Deep Twice
In last Sunday's game at Kent State, junior T.J. Losby became the second Falcons' player this season to record a multi-homer game. Losby hit home runs in the first and ninth innings, recording his first career multi-homer game.
Thomas Gets On The Board
With his bomb in the fifth inning on Sunday, Jake Thomas became the fourth Falcon to hit a home run this season. The home run was not only the first of his season, but also his first career home run.
Stellar Play At Steller Field
While the Falcons are just 3-6 at home this season, the program has enjoyed much success under Danny Schmitz at Warren E. Steller Field. In his 23rd season, the Orange and Brown has compiled a 286-179 record at home under the skipper. The Falcons will look to close the season strong, playing eight of the final 11 inside the friendly white lines of Steller Field.
Schmitz Makes His Mark
In his 23rd season as the head coach at Bowling Green State University, Danny Schmitz has a career record of 602-573-5. Schmitz becamse just the third coach in Mid-American Conference history to win 600 career ballgames, with the Falcons' 14-6 win over Akron on April 20. 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)
The Winning Tradition
Assistant coaches Rick Blanc and Spencer Schmitz have been a part of many of Danny Schmitz's 602 career wins. A two-year letter winner for the Orange and Brown, Blanc is now in his sixth season as the pitching coach. Blanc has been involved in 203 wins, including winning an average of 29 during his two years as a player. Schmitz has been in the program for 10 seasons (six as coach, four as player), contributing to 258 wins. During his four seasons as a player, the younger Schmitz won an average of 28.25 games per year.
Blanc-ing The Opponents
Pitching coach Rick Blanc has his pitching staff in line to post the first sub-4.50 ERA for the program since 1996, when the team posted a 4.02 ERA. The pitching staff currently has an ERA of 3.86, good for third best in the Mid-American Conference. Blanc has led a resurgence of Falcon pitching, since posting a 7.62 ERA in 2009. The Falcons are led in the weekend rotation by a pair of redshirt juniors, in Cody Apthorpe (2.91) and Mike Frank (3.43). In the bullpen Ethan McKenney (1.74) and Nick Bruns (2.36) lead the way.
With nine games left in the Mid-American Conference season, the Falcons still have plenty of opportunities to move up in, and secure their spot, for the upcoming MAC Tournament. The Falcons will play two of the top four teams in the current MAC standings at home, while traveling to Ohio next weekend.