BUFFALO, N.Y. - Sophomore pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) celebrated her 20th birthday by blasting what turned out to be a game-winning home run in a 9-5 victory over Buffalo Saturday afternoon at Nan Harvey Field.
In addition to being her first career home run, the three-run rocket shot over the left field fence in the top of the sixth was BSU's 59th four-bagger of the season which ties the Mid-American Conference single-season record set by Kent State in 2010.
Sophomore left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) also broke the BSU single-season home run record in the third inning with her 16th long ball of the year, a two-run shot also to left field. The previous record was 15 set by Gilbert last season.
In addition, Gilbert tallied her team-leading fourth triple in the seventh inning and finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.
With the victory, the Cardinals also maintain their spot atop the league standings with a 34-13 (12-3 MAC) record. Buffalo falls to 14-26 (4-12 MAC) with the loss.
In the circle, senior hurler Kim Mazzapica (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake) earned her league-leading 21st victory of the season, improving her overall mark to 21-3. Over seven innings of work, she allowed five runs on nine hits, while striking out five batters.
After retiring the Cardinals in order in the top of the first, the Bulls manufactured the game's first run in the bottom of the frame by capitalizing on a leadoff single by Alexis Curtiss. Following a sacrifice bunt to move the runner and a foul fly out, Kristin Waldron dropped an RBI single on the left field line.
Buffalo extended its lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the second, thanks to a two-run home run from Andi Saucier.
The Cardinals finally came to life in the top of the third, tying the score thanks to an RBI groundout from freshman right fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) followed by Gilbert's school record-setting blast.
Senior shortstop Alison Mercado (Perris, Calif./Arizona Western College) opened the inning with a walk and advanced to third two batters later when the left fielder dropped a fly from junior catcher Sadie Robertson (Fenton, Mo./Rockwood Summit) which put a pair of runners in scoring position. Stuedemann followed with a RBI groundout to second to drive in BSU's first run, while Gilbert's two-run blast evened the score.
Holly Luciano led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run for the Bulls to break the tie, while three singles by the next four batters, including a RBI hit from pinch hitter Rebecca Griswold, gave the hosts a 5-3 lead.
Schroeder would provide the Cardinals' biggest hit in the top of the sixth, giving BSU a 6-5 advantage with a three-run blast off the Buffalo football stadium. Pinch runners sophomore Julie Cortez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Chaparrel) and freshman Haley Smith (Baytown Texas/Lee) both scored on the homer after replacing sophomore first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) and sophomore third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) who both drew walks.
Ball State would add three more insurance runs in the top of the seventh, starting with an RBI triple from Gilbert which plated pinch runner Hannah Zimmerman (Indianapolis, Ind./Scecina Memorial) who entered the game after Stuedemann was hit by a pitch. Senior designated player Amanda Montalto (Las Vegas, Nev./Palo Verde) followed with a RBI double off the top of the right field wall.
Ball State's final run came on a double steal attempt when Montalto scored from third, while the runner at first was caught in a run down.
Holly Johnson (3-12) suffered the loss for the Bulls after allowing six runs (three earned) on four hits over 5.2 innings. Tori Speckman pitched the final 1.1 innings, allowing three runs on two hits.
The Ball State softball team concludes its final regular season road trip Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch at Buffalo.