Coming off Michigan win, BG looks to end losing streak

Coming off a big win against Michigan, the BG baseball team will look to snap its three-game conference losing streak as it hosts Kent State.

The three game series begins Friday with a 3 p.m. start, while Saturday and Sunday’s games are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Last time out, the Falcons slipped past the Wolverines, led by seven strong innings from Trevor Blaylock. However, BG continued a recent trend of offensive struggles.

Since it scored 10 runs April 4 against Defiance, BG has scored only six runs in four games. The Falcons are 1-3 during that stretch.

BG will turn to Matt Malewitz as the starter for Friday’s opener. He received the Friday start last weekend against Akron, picking up the loss despite a strong outing. He tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk.

He replaced Cody Apthorpe, the Falcons’ normal Friday starter. Apthorpe hasn’t pitched since March 30, when he went 8 2/3 innings against Central Michigan, but left the game after getting hit by a line drive.

Malewitz, a fifth-year senior, has had a strong rebound season after a significant arm injury derailed what was once a promising career for BG. After an All-MAC season in 2009, he missed the 2010 season due to shoulder surgery.

He struggled in his return to the mound last season, posting a 5.59 earned-run average and walking more batters than he struck out. However, he has been strong this year, with a 3.80 earned-run average in seven appearances — four starts — this season.

Starting game two for BG with be Ethan McKenney, who has had an up-and-down season. He has a 1-5 record with a 6.57 earned-run average, but was strong in his previous outing against Akron, allowing one run during 7 2/3 strong innings.

Coach Danny Schmitz had not yet named a starter for the third game.

Offensively, the Falcons’ struggles have seen its team batting average dip below .300. That impact can be felt best at the top of the lineup.

Jake Thomas, BG’s leadoff hitter, has been in a slump after his red-hot start to the season. During the Falcons’ past eight games, Thomas is 4-for-31 (.129) at the plate.

Schmitz hasn’t been able to get much production from the two spot in the lineup either. He has shuffled Brandon Howard, Logan Walker and Brian Bien in the spot during that eight game stretch. In that same stretch, the No. 2 spot in the BG lineup has combined to hit 8-for-35 (.229).