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2017 MAC Baseball Non-Conference and Opening Weekend Review: Kent State and Northern Illinois

The current division leaders in MAC baseball get first swing at non-con reviews.

McKinzie Field (NIU Athletics)

Kent State

At this point, it should bear no surprise that the Golden Flashes are coming into conference play as a MAC front runner. The Flashes rolled through their non conference schedule with a 12-6 record. They did not lose a full weekend series to any team they played. And, which seems to be more, 17 of their 18 non conference games were either on the road or on a neutral site.

While Kent State looks to be in good condition, holding the best record in the MAC, their best wins in terms of RPI are over Western Carolina. The Catamounts currently sit at 83rd in the latest edition of the RPI rankings (Mach 28). They do have one double header played against a top 50 RPI team, but the Flashes didn’t compete very well with them. With the MAC being, well, the MAC, they would have little to no resume should they not win in the conference tournament.

The Flashes played fantastic baseball in the clutch during the weekend sweep of Ball State. Kent State scored 21 runs on 43 hits over the course of the weekend. Just four of these hits were home runs, so the Flashes were able to move runners around the bases to get across home plate. Their pitching held the Cardinals to just 12 runs on 22 hits throughout the three games.

Kent State returns to conference action this weekend when they host Buffalo for a three game series.

Northern Illinois

As of March 29, the Huskies are leading the West Division of the MAC after a three game sweep of Toledo, who is arguably the worst team in the conference this year. While the Huskies may have come on strong in the first weekend of conference play, they didn’t fare so well in non conference play. NIU came into conference play holding a 4-16 record. Their worst loss in terms of RPI was to the 273rd-ranked Chicago State team, a loss that came by a score of 11-1 on opening weekend. The Huskies played them three times and emerged with a 1-2 record in the series.

The Huskies did, however, begin MAC play with a sweep of Toledo and looked extremely efficient in doing so. They downed the Rockets by a total of 23 runs, one of the games concluding with a 14 run difference. They hit just two homers the whole season, so it’s clear to see the Huskies can run the bases with great efficiency.

Northern Illinois is set to square off with Bowling Green in a three game set in DeKalb this weekend. If the Huskies can continue to swing the bat and pitch like they did against Toledo, they should get the series.