BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University baseball coach Danny Schmitz was surprised recently to see an array of orange plastic beverage cups wedged in the fence around Steller Field, forming the number 600.
Schmitz surpassed that milestone for career victories Saturday when BG knocked off Akron 14-6 in the first game of a doubleheader.
“I really didn’t realize that [milestone] was approaching,” said Schmitz, now in his 23rd season as BG’s coach. “Seeing those cups were the first time I really thought about it.”
Schmitz, whose career record at BG is 602-569-5, joins former Western Michigan coach Fred Decker (791), and Joe Carbone (689), who recently retired at Ohio, as one of only three Mid-American Conference coaches with more than 600 career victories.
“Obviously that’s a special number,” Schmitz said. “But honestly, all it does is remind me that I’ve had a lot of great players and great assistant coaches in my 23 years here. I’m proud to be the baseball coach at BG, and my family and I truly love Bowling Green.”
Schmitz has led the Falcons to four MAC regular-season championships, seven East Division titles, and a pair MAC tournament titles.
This season Bowling Green has rebounded from a slow start to put itself in position for another league tournament bid. The Falcons have won seven of their last eight games to improve to 14-20 on the season and 8-7 in Mid-American Conference play, good for fourth in the East and tied for fifth overall.
The top eight teams advance to the MAC tournament, which will be played at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio, May 22-25.
“We struggled early in the season; our defense struggled to make even routine plays,” Schmitz said. “But once the conference season began, we relied on the old cliché of taking things one game at a time.
The Falcons lead the MAC with a 3.73 ERA and are led by starters Cody Apthorpe, who is 4-2 with a 2.24 ERA, and Anthony Wayne product Mike Frank, who is 3-5 with a 3.47 ERA. Closer Nick Bruns is 2-0 with five saves and a 2.38 ERA, while reliever Ethan McKenney has a 3-1 record and 1.27 ERA in 13 appearances.
The offense is led by T.J. Losby, who is batting .323 with two homers and 24 RBIs; Jeremy Shay, who is hitting .313 with four home runs and 21 RBIs, and Patrick Lancaster, who is batting .304 with no homers and 14 RBIs.
NET GAINS: While it may not seem like much, the tennis team’s victory over Western Michigan on Saturday was a big deal.
The Falcons’ 5-2 win was the first over the Broncos after 38 straight losses. It helped BG tie the school record for dual-match victories in a season with 16. It also clinched a tie for second in the Mid-American Conference standings, and the second seed for the league tournament this weekend in Muncie, Ind.
Bowling Green will face either third-seed Akron or sixth-seed Buffalo at 2 p.m. Saturday, and with a win it would advance to the MAC title match at noon Sunday.
BG is led by four seniors: Maddy Eccleston, a St. Ursula Academy product who is 72-54 in singles matches during her career, Katie Grubb, Mary Hill, and Jade Johnson.
TITLE HOPES: The women’s golf team will take a swing at winning its first MAC tournament title when it competes in the 54-hole event, to be played at Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio, starting Friday.
The Falcons, who have never finished higher than fifth, are almost certain to set a school record for best team average with a 310.10 mark, which is eight shots better than the current record.
The team is led by junior Bailey Arnold, whose stroke average of 77.25 is sixth-best in the league and a school record.
MAKING A SPLASH: The BG swim team finished third in the MAC this season, a marked improvement from its last-place showing (eighth) one year earlier.
Second-year coach Petra Martin was named MAC coach of the year, while senior Alexa Harris won the MAC title in the 200 backstroke and broke five school records during the meet.
Freshman Daniela Carrillo advanced to the NCAA championships, becoming the first Falcon to compete at NCAAs since 1996.
ANOTHER FINE EFFORT: The Falcons’ gymnastics team had two individuals win event titles at the MAC championships, marking the first time since 2001 that BG had two event champs in the same season.
Jamilah Ali tied for first in the vault with a score of 9.875, while Alyssa Nocella won the balance beam title with a 9.85 mark. The Falcons finished fifth in the league meet, and Kerrie Beach was named MAC coach of the year.
Contact John Wagner at:email@example.com,419-724-6481 or onTwitter @jwagnerblade.