BG baseball travels to Oklahoma State

Sports Editor and Sports Editor

After starting its season with a pair of losses in a doubleheader, the BG baseball team briefly will have a chance to prepare for the format of conference play.

Starting Friday, and ending Sunday, the Falcons will face off against Oklahoma State in a three-game set down in Stillwater, Okla. The series emulates how a Mid-American Conference series is played, and will give coach Danny Schmitz an early chance to prepare his team for that format.

“The way we look at the first eight to 10 games is, not necessarily an exhibition season, but we’ll try different lineup combinations,” Schmitz said. “Whether it’s on the mound — we’re not sure who our two and three starters or our middle guys are going to be yet. We’ll try some different combinations in the infield and outfield. There are definitely still questions to answer.”

With the full three-game series, the Falcons will have a chance to set a full weekend starting rotation for the first time this season. Cody Apthorpe, who started the team’s season opener, will get the ball in game one.

Starting game two for BG will be left-hander Patrick Martin. Ethan McKenney, who started BG’s second game last weekend, will start game three.

Schmitz was pleased with the pitching and defensive phases of the Falcons’ two losses last weekend. However, he said the team needs to improve its hitting, particularly with men on base.

“We struggled to bunch the hits together,” Schmitz said. “When we get chances to advance runners, we want to do that, and when we get chances to drive runners in, we need to capitalize on that.”

He also noted that the team needs better production from the top two spots in the lineup.

Last weekend, Brandon Howard and Matthew Pitzulo — BG’s top two in the batting order in both games — combined to go 1-for-18 at the plate with no walks.

In fact, BG only had two walks as a team in the two losses last weekend.

“We can be a little more disciplined and select when hitting and work the counts a little bit more,” Schmitz said. “We want the guys to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive where they’re swinging at the first or second pitch.

“That doesn’t help bring the opposing pitcher’s pitch count up if he’s getting in and out of innings. We want to work that pitcher and get him deep in the count.”

The Cowboys were picked to finish sixth in the Big XII preseason poll, and are 2-3 on the season. They opened the season getting swept by Cal Poly, but have won games against Dallas Baptist and St. Gregory’s.

Despite losing two of their top starters from last season, the Cowboys are led on the mound by Andrew Heaney, who had a 7-4 record and a 4.03 earned-run average as a sophomore last season.

“He’s one of the top left-handers in the country,” Schmitz said. “[As a team] they’re going to play very well defensively and swing the bats well. They’re going to try and put pressure on our defense, so we have to control the running game and go out and play good, solid baseball.”