Offense no longer equals victories

Erik Cassano and Erik Cassano

When the Bowling Green baseball team has an offensive outburst like they did in Saturday’s nightcap against Eastern Michigan at Steller Field, it gives fans warm fuzzies about BG teams from previous years. The 2001 team that led the nation in offense. A team that once piled up 77 runs in a four-game series against Buffalo.

When BG scores 11 runs in a game, that’s the team that won the Mid-American Conference regular-season title last year. A team that had Len Elias and Corey Loomis at the top of the order to bolster the dangerous bats of David Barkholz and Kelly Hunt.

But Elias and Loomis are gone, and so are the days when BG could slug their way to wins en masse. BG may have scored 11 runs in Saturday’s nightcap, but Eastern Michigan scored 13. The Falcons wasted a 9-2 lead in that game. The clouds gathered faster on the field than they did in the 35-degree sky. 9-2 became 11-4 became 11-7, and before BG knew what was on top of them, the Eagles had tied the game, sent it into extra innings, taken the lead and won.

In past years, the Falcons might have been able to score more runs. Twenty if needed. It wasn’t great fundamental baseball and it usually didn’t make coach Danny Schmitz terribly happy to have to win solely on brute offensive force, but wins were wins.

Now, more than any time in the last several years, every part of BG’s team has to be serviceable for them to win.

It is proving to be a tough transition for a team much younger than they have been recently. A transition slowed further by a growing collection of weather-instigated delays and postponements. Rain on Friday forced the Falcons to play over 30 innings in two days this weekend.

BG is losing well-played pitchers’ duels, and turning around the next day and losing slugfests. But the Falcons seem to be better off when they play for the small lead. Four of their five wins have come when they have scored less than five runs, a 23-7 manhandling of Penn in Fresno, Calif. the lone exception.

High score or low score, Schmitz is taking a blunt mentality to every loss. His comments over the weekend have typified what he has had to say about most games so far this year.

“We just didn’t get it done,” he said Saturday. “When we get a big lead like that we’ve got to be able to win the game, especially at home.”