Bowling Green's baseball team is playing well.
|BG's T.J. Losby, center, holds up the trophy for winning the Mid-American Conference tournament. (Photo courtesy BGSU Athletic Communications Office)
The Falcons are striving for another weekend of solid pitching, hitting and defense in the NCAA regional tournament at the University of Louisville.
They face the host Cardinals, ranked eighth nationally and the No. 1 seed in the regional, Friday night at 6.
BG, seeded fourth, earned an automatic bid to the NCAAs by winning the Mid-American Conference tournament.
"Our confidence is the highest its ever been throughout the whole season," BG coach Danny Schmitz said. "We really struggled early, not that we played God awful baseball, but just we found ways to lose versus finding ways to win.
"We have a nationally-ranked opponent and they're going to be very strong in all three phases (pitching hitting and defense)," Schmitz added. "But the only thing we can control is us and do the things we do well. Pitching and defense are the two most important because they give you a chance to win. If you don't have one of those two, it's tough to out-slug the opposition."
Although the Falcons are 24-29 overall, they're 17-10 since a 7-19 start.
BG also was 10-8 during its last 18 MAC games and was 4-1 in the MAC tournament. Louisville is 46-12.
"We have to stay within ourselves and play our game, and do what we do best," BG junior catcher T.J. Losby said.
DEFENSE: An improved defense sparked BG's turnaround. BG has made zero or one error in nine of its last 12 games, and had just four errors in the MAC tournament.
Second baseman Brandon Howard, shortstop Brian Bien and third baseman Nick Glanzman combined for 46 assists in the tournament.
"Our defense was a big question mark most of the season, but we've improved each and every series, and the defense was lights out in the MAC tournament," Schmitz said.
BATS: The Falcons, who have a .277 average, hit .317 in the conference tournament.
Jeremy Shay led BG at .381, followed by Bien and Jesse Rait .350, Logan Walker .333, and Glanzman .300.
Shay leads the team with a .328 average overall, while Losby is second at .324.
ARMS: BG has had quality pitching most of the season with a 3.74 earned-run average.
Seniors Cody Apthorpe (5-4, 3.50) and Mike Frank (5-7, 3.61) will start BG's first two regional games.
Relievers Ethan McKenney (3-1, two saves, 1.93), Nick Bruns (6-2, six saves, 2.32) and Ben Singer (1-2, one save, 3.12) have pitched well.
"The depth on our pitching staff has made a big difference," Schmitz said. "We have a lot of arms we can go to."
CARDS: Although Louisville is hitting just .293 and has only 27 home runs, the Cardinals are averaging 6.33 runs per game and have stolen 142 bases in 183 attempts.
Five Cardinals have at least 24 stolen bases, including Adam Engel with 40. BG has just 37 stolen bases in 61 attempts.
"We've been doing a good job of all year of stopping the running game, but they have some good runners," Losby said. "We have to keep doing what we're doing. Our pitchers have confidence in Jeremy (Shay, who also catches) and I throwing the ball, and we have confidence in the pitchers being able to keep the runners close."
STATS: Ty Young leads Louisville with a .357 average, while the top pitchers are Chad Green (9-3, 2.09) and Jeff Thompson (10-1, 2.09).
FAMILIAR FACE: Former Perrysburg High School and University of Toledo baseball star Phil Pilewski is in his first year as an assistant athletics director at Louisville.
Pilewski, who joined the Louisville staff in 2012, oversees major gift fundraising and capital campaign strategies for the Cardinal Athletic Fund.
Prior to Louisville, he spent five years in fundraising at Washington (2007-12) and three years at North Carolina State (2004-07).
RETURN: The Falcons played a three-game series at Louisville in 2010.
Four Falcons return from that team - Matt Pizulo, Bruns, Frank and Apthorpe. Pitzulo and Bruns are BG's only regulars among its seniors.
COVERAGE: All of the games in the regional will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
BG's games will be on radio, WBGU (88.1 FM).