By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
Head baseball coach Britt Bonneau doesn’t anticipate any high-scoring games in the Wildcats series against Tarleton State this weekend, and based on the program’s past battles his prediction is well founded.
ACU and Tarleton have split the series the last two season’s and ACU slightly leads the series historically 62-50.
“In the couple of years past, it hasn’t mattered what the teams’ records are, we’re two teams who are gonna fight,” Bonneau said.
The nationally ranked ACU baseball team will open Lone Star Conference South division play at home with a four-game series against Tarleton State this weekend. ACU will play two nine-inning doubleheaders, one on Friday and another on Saturday.
ACU leads the LSC with a 24-8 record for a .750 winning percentage, and No. 17 ACU is also the lone LSC team nationally ranked. Tarleton holds the fifth best record in the LSC at 18-16 and finished last place in the LSC South in 2006.
But regardless of his team’s past or current accomplishments, Bonneau is confident the series is up for grabs.
“They took two away from us last year; it’s going to be a good series to watch,” Bonneau said.
ACU is coming off of a hard-fought series with LSC North rivals and defending LSC champs Central Oklahoma; a series Bonneau feels his team is aptly prepared for the rigorous divisional play ahead.
“This past weekend UCO prepared us for the type of intensity that’s going to be the next five weeks,” Bonneau said.
For Bonneau, ACU success depends on the performance of the team’s four starting pitchers.
“Our pitching really has to match theirs,” Bonneau said. “If that happens I think our bats can get us the wins we need.”
ACU’s bullpen is the LSC’s best with conference-leading 4.76 ERA and an opposing batting average of .274.
Tarleton’s bullpen’s boasts the Lone Star Conference Pitcher of the Week Josh Kelley. The 6-3 starter pitched a complete seven-inning game against Southeastern Oklahoma and picked up the 1-0 win in the pitcher’s duel.
Tarleton also has the LSC’s best pitcher in 2007 so far, Brian Babbitt. The right-handed junior holds a conference best 2.52 ERA and picked up a win against ACU in 2006.
“He’s gonna come out and throw a good game against us,” Bonneau said.
Starting right-hander Brian Kennedy, who has a 5.71 ERA and is tied for a team-best five wins, said he is ready to match off with the Tarleton pitchers and is looking forward to the advantage of a home crowd.
“I love playing for the home crowd; the more the merrier,” Kennedy said.
And ACU doesn’t lose often in front of its home crowd at Crutcher Scott Field – the Wildcats have a conference-best 15-1 record at home.
“We’re pretty much unbeatable at home,” said catcher Jordan Schmitt.
ACU and Tarleton will play their first game doubleheader at 4 p.m. Friday and the second at 1 p.m. Saturday. If the Friday games are cancelled because of weather conditions, the series will be rescheduled to start at 1 p.m. Sunday.