Falcons head to Florida

Sports Editor and Sports Editor

While students rest and relax during spring break, the BG baseball team will be hard at work.

The Falcons head to Winter Haven, Fla. to partake in the RussMatt Invitational. The schedule for that tournament, weather permitting, has the Falcons playing eight games in eight days.

BG will kick that off this afternoon with a game against Mount St. Mary’s.

The Falcons bring a 1-5 record into the Invitational, picking up their first win earlier this week against Dayton.

However, that record does not concern coach Danny Schmitz, as the team is still looking to find its stride.

“It’s always nice to get the first win, but unfortunately it took us six games to get it,” he said. “After the Oklahoma State series, I told the guys that Major League Baseball has an exhibition season, and unfortunately we don’t have that. As a coaching staff we always look at the first five or six games as our exhibition season. So we just told them to stay positive.”

While having eight games in seven days won’t exactly give Schmitz a chance to outline a plan for weekend lineups, the high volume of games will give him a chance to evaluate the entire roster.

“We’re going to go down there and see a lot of different people,” Schmitz said. “It will be an opportunity for some of the pitchers who haven’t gotten on the mound yet, and same for the position players.

“Our goal for when we come back is to be in mid-season form, since we will start conference play shortly thereafter.”

While Schmitz hasn’t yet outlined a plan for his starting rotation, he mentioned a need to get No. 1 starter Cody Apthorpe going in the right direction. While he only has two starts this season, he has posted an earned-run average of 6.00 in nine innings, including a 7-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Additionally, Schmitz said Ethan McKenney, who one-hit Oklahoma State through five innings Sunday before falling apart in the sixth, has put himself in a position to remain the team’s No. 3 starter.

What the team will be looking for is a No. 2 starter to slot between Apthorpe and McKenney. Two names Schmitz mentioned are Pat Martin and Matt Malewitz, who earned the win for BG on Tuesday by allowing no runs in 3 1/3 innings.

The top of the batting lineup is one other spot Schmitz said he will continue to tinker with. BG has used three different leadoff hitters in six games — Brandon Howard, Logan Howard and Jake Thomas.

Thomas started his second game of the season against Dayton and responded by going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.

“He did exactly what we wanted him to do, and he earned himself another start,” Schmitz said. “He was down on the depth chart in the outfield, and I wanted to give him a start to see how he would respond. The bell rang, and he answered it.”