Falcon baseball set for MAC tourney (05-22-13)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 09:17
Bowling Green's baseball team has been competitive this season when it has played well in all three phases.
|BG's Mike Frank throws a pitch (Photo courtesy BGSU Office of Athletic Communications)
The Falcons are hoping for solid pitching, defense and hitting this week in the Mid-American Conference tournament at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.
BG is 20-28 overall entering today's tournament opener against Northern Illinois at 12:30 p.m.
The Falcons are the No. 6 seed in the tournament after finishing fourth in the East with a 13-14 record. NIU won the West with a 16-11 record.
BG's pitching and hitting have been good most of the time, but its defense has been an issue. The Falcons have 100 errors in 48 games, including 47 errors in 27 MAC games.
"That's true for every team, but it's especially true for us," BG coach Danny Schmitz said of needing all three phases to be competitive. "If we get all three phases, we can be competitive."
The Falcons had a losing record in the MAC, even though they won five of their nine three-game series. However, BG swept just one series and was swept twice.
"Kent State and Buffalo are probably the two top teams, and everybody else is in the same mix," Schmitz said. "But in the tournament, it comes down to which team gets hot and plays the best baseball. The slate is clean for everyone."
OFFENSE: The Falcons are fourth overall in the MAC in hitting with a .278 average, including a conference-best .294 in MAC games only.
"Once the weather warmed up, we started swinging the bats better, although we can still do a better job of executing offensively," Schmitz said.
BG's T.J. Losby is fifth in the MAC with a .346 average overall. Also for the Falcons, Jeremy Shay is hitting .321 and Patrick Lancaster has a .310 average. Losby leads BG with six home runs and 37 runs batted in while, Shay has five homers and 36 RBI.
"They're been our three most consistent hitters and we've had contributions from a lot of other people," Schmitz said.
Losby was named to the All-MAC first-team, and Shay was a second-team choice.
PITCHING: BG is fourth in the MAC overall with a 3.96 earned-run average.
"Our pitching has been pretty consistent," Schmitz said.
The top two starters are Cody Apthorpe and Mike Frank, and reliever Ethan McKenney is third in the MAC with a 2.21 ERA
"Apthorpe and Frank have been our leaders, and the bullpen has been very good," Schmitz said.
Also in relief, Ben Singer has a 2.81 ERA and Nick Bruns is at 3.08 with 4-2 record and five saves.
Apthorpe is 4-4 with a 3.76 ERA, and Frank is 4-7 with a 4.67 ERA.
FRANK: After sitting out last season for academic reasons, Frank has pitched well this season. He is a red-shirt junior.
The right-hander has allowed 76 hits in 88.1 innings, while striking out 72 and walking 36.
"He's really turned it on of late," Schmitz said. "He's had command of his pitches and he's had command of both sides of the plate, and working ahead in the count. He's been very good."
Frank finished a complete game four-hitter at Ohio May 11 by throwing strikes on his final 21 pitches. BG won that game 7-2 in 10 innings.
TURF: BG took infield Monday on the artificial turf at Perry Stadium to prepare for the artificial surface at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Falcons have played on an artificial surface once this season, that coming at Kent State. BG practiced at All Pro Freight Stadium Tuesday.
"The artificial surfaces aren't as quick as they were then they first came out," Schmitz said. "The biggest thing is there are no bad hops."
The stadium has a capacity of 5,000 and is home to the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League.
FORMAT: The double-elimination tournament is divided into two eight-team pools, based on seeding, with the two pool winners playing for the championship on Saturday.
BG's and NIU's pool also consists of No. 2 Buffalo and No. 7 Toledo.
The other pool has No. 1 Kent State, No. 4 Ball State, No. 5 Miami and No. 8 Central Michigan.