|Improvement is BG baseball goal (02-13-13)|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Wednesday, 13 February 2013 09:20|
The Falcons finished 20-33 overall and last in the Mid-American Conference East Division last season.
BG returns 10 position players who saw significant playing time last season, and starting pitchers Cody Apthorpe and Mike Frank as well as what should be a quality bullpen.
BG, picked for the third in the East by MAC coaches, begins the season this weekend with a three-game series at Western Kentucky.
“We definitely have something to prove,” said BG coach Danny Schmitz, who is in his 23rd season.
The Falcons — who won division titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010 — were 9-18 in the MAC last season and failed to qualify for the MAC tournament.
The players have been given T-shirts from the coaching staff with BG baseball on the front and the words pride, attitude and commitment on the back. BG has just two seniors.
“We’ve talked to the players about what it means to be a Falcon baseball player and, hopefully, they’re buying into it,” Schmitz said.
An improved defense is a must for BG, which was last in the MAC in fielding percentage last season, It committed a staggering total of 110 errors in its 53 games, including 52 errors in its 27 MAC games.
“We have to be able to catch the ball and make routine plays,” Schmitz said. “Our infield play, especially on the left side (third base, shortstop), was not what we’re accustomed to. We did a pretty good defensively during the fall, that’s encouraging.”
Redshirt juniors Apthorpe and Frank should give BG two solid starters.
BG was seventh in the MAC overall with a 5.08 earned-run average last season, but it was 10th in conference games only at 5.14.
Apthorpe missed most of last season after breaking his foreman when he was hit with a line drive during BG’s second MAC weekend. Frank missed last season over academic issues.
Apthorpe, who has been one of BG’s best starters since he was a freshman, was 5-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 2011 and 3-2 with a 3.56 ERA in 2010.
Frank was a member of the rotation earlier in his career.
“He’s been really good,” Schmitz said about Frank. “He did a great job last year because that’s not easy to sit out. He not only worked out with the team, but he worked out all summer long and kept himself in shape. He’s ready to go.”
The No. 3 spot in BG’s rotation for MAC games is still being decided.
Redshirt freshman Andrew Lacinak is out for the reason after having elbow surgery. He had a 2.77 ERA last season before injuring his elbow two days after Apthorpe was hurt.
Schmitz believes the bullpen will be good with senior Nick Bruns (3-3, 2.53, seven saves), and juniors Ben Singer (2-2, 3.22, one save) and Ethan McKenney.
McKenney was a starter last season.
Sophomore Jason Link (4-0, 4.83, one save) pitched well in relief last season, but he could be in the starting rotation.
Schmitz likes BG’s offense, although he’s hoping for more consistency. BG was fifth in the MAC with a .290 average last season, but only batted .268 in MAC games.
Seven Falcons return who hit .300 or better, including junior outfielder Andrew Kabuski, sophomore shortstop Brian Bien and junior first baseman/catcher T.J. Losby. Bien was second-team All-MAC last spring.
Kabuski led BG with a .367 average, while Bien batted .343. Kubuski had two home runs and 30 runs batted in. Losby added three homers and a team-best 37 RBI.
Also returning is junior first baseman/catcher Jeremy Shay, who led BG with five homers and 13 doubles. He hit .265 with 21 RBI.
BG plays its first 14 games on the road before its home opener March 13 against Malone. The Falcons start MAC play March 22 against Western Michigan in the opener of a three-game series.
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