MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State baseball team dropped the series opener to Mid-American Conference foe Western Michigan 10-5 Friday afternoon at Ball Diamond. The Cardinals allowed eight runs in the first four innings of play while falling to 6-13 in MAC play.
Junior center fielder Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) posted a career-high four hits in the loss from the leadoff position while scoring three runs. He posted a double and three singles on the afternoon while also making an acrobatic diving catch in the outfield. First baseman Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) drove in a pair of runs on three hits to pace the Cardinals' attack.
Western Michigan (18-24, 8-10 MAC) opened the scoring quickly against sophomore right-hander T.J. Weir (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo). Zach Thoma and Jack Scanlon posted back-to-back one out singles to put runners on the corners before Ryan McMillian lifted a sacrifice fly to center field for the early 1-0 WMU lead. Weir limited the damage to just one run as he induced another fly ball to end the inning.
Western Michigan extended its lead to 4-0 in the third inning as it used the long ball to score three runs in the inning. McMillan hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard for his team-leading sixth home run of the season while Patrick Duncan followed with a solo home run.
Ball State (11-30, 6-13 MAC) came back from a rain delay of 69 minutes and scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning against WMU left-hander Casey Webber to make it a 4-3 contest. Mitch Overley (Zionsville, Ind./Brebeuf) and Winkle led off the inning with back-to-back singles before Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out.
Weir drove in the Cardinals' first run as he lifted a sacrifice fly into foul territory in right field scoring Overley. Webber looked like he was going to limit the damage to just one run, but Blake Beemer (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont) lined a ball into the outfield with two outs that WMU center fielder Vinnie Booker dropped allowing two unearned runs to score making it a one run contest.
Western Michigan answered back in the top of the fourth inning with four runs to take an 8-3 lead. The Broncos took advantage of two walks from left-hander Miles Moeller (Phoenix, Ariz./Glendale CC). Western Michigan followed with three straight singles and a sacrifice fly to take a five-run lead.
The Cardinals got their fourth run of the afternoon in the bottom of the fifth inning. Winkle led off the inning with a double down the left field line and came home to score as Wellman singled into center field to make it an 8-4 game.
After the Broncos scored two unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning, the Cardinals tacked on a run in the bottom half to round out the scoring. Winkle and Widau led off with back-to-back singles to put two aboard before Wellman doubled into the left center field gap to make it a 10-5 game.
Weir (2-8) picked up the loss as he went just 2.2 innings as he did not come back out after the 69-minute rain delay. He allowed four runs on six hits while striking out three batters. Webber (3-4) tallied the victory for the Broncos as he went 5.2 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. David Brennan picked up his first save of the season working the final 3.1 innings of one-run baseball.
The Cardinals and Broncos will continue their three-game series Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Ball Diamond with junior right-hander Chris Marangon (Maple Valley, Wash./Edmunds CC) set to take the hill for the Cardinals.