Muncie, Ind. - Western Carolina continues its five-game road swing this weekend with the first-ever meetings on the baseball diamond against the Cardinals of Ball State at the on-campus First Merchants Ballpark Complex. The nonconference series opens at 3 pm on Friday with first pitch on Saturday and Sunday set for 1:00 pm.
Fans can follow each game on the Catamount Sports Network with live streaming audio available online at CatamountSports.com, as well as through social media posts on Twitter using the handle, @Catamounts. A video stream through Ball State All-Access is also available online through BallStateSports.com.
Western Carolina (24-24) looks to halt a three-game slide including a pair of midweek losses as a part of its current five-game road swing. WCU's current slump comes on the heels of winning eight of 10 to end April and start the month of May. On the contrary, Ball State (27-22) is red-hot entering the series, winners of five-straight games including a 14-4 thumping of Big Ten foe, Ohio State, back on Wednesday evening in Columbus, Ohio.
Though the Catamounts and Cardinals have never met on the baseball diamond, WCU has faced six other Mid-American Conference (MAC) foes all-time including hosting Kent State earlier this season in Cullowhee. The Golden Flashes took 2-of-3 from the Catamounts at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium back on March 17-19. All told, WCU is 15-13 against teams currently in the MAC.
Statistically, the two teams are similar with WCU ranking 111th in the latest RPI and Ball State just behind at 139. The Catamounts are averaging right at seven runs per game (335 in 48 games) while the Cardinals score right at six per game (293 in 49 games). Ball State's pitching staff has 70 more total strikeouts than does WCU, averaging eight and a half strikeouts per game while the Catamounts average just over six per game, though the two named starters for the Catamounts -- senior Bryan Sammons (90) and Brendan Nail (76) both have more strikeouts than any pitcher on Ball State's staff.
Both teams have flexed their offensive muscles this season, rapping out double-digit hits in double-digit games. WCU has collected double-digit hits 27 times while Ball State has accomplished the feat 19 times including an impressive streak of nine-straight games through mid-April. WCU has stranded double-digit runners in 12 games this season including its last two road losses, while the Cardinals have stranded 10-or-more 15 times with 12 left on base at Ohio State on Wednesday.
The two winningest head coaches in their respective programs -- WCU's Bobby Moranda (308 wins) and Ball State's Rich Maloney (418 at BSU) -- will match wits in the three-game series.
WCU is scheduled to throw senior southpaw Bryan Sammons on Friday with junior lefty Brendan Nail expected to start on Saturday in game two like he did a week ago. The Catamounts hope that sophomore LHP Tristan Baker, who missed his start a week ago with a back injury, will be ready to go in Sunday's finale.
Projected Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday: WCU -- Sr. LHP Bryan Sammons (6-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Colin Brockhouse (3-1, 2.28 ERA)
Saturday: WCU -- Jr. LHP Brendan Nail (5-7, 7.23 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP John Baker (5-2, 3.31 ERA)
Sunday: WCU -- TBA vs. BSU -- Sr. LHP Evan Korson (1-1, 4.18 ERA)