CONWAY, S. C. - For the second straight game, the Ball State baseball team suffered a hard fought 3-2 loss to No. 8 Coastal Carolina Monday afternoon in the final game of the Caravelle Resort Invitational at Watson Stadium. Coastal Carolina scored one run in the eighth inning and one in the ninth to improve to 11-1 on the season, while Ball State falls to 3-8 overall.
Coastal Carolina opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning as it took advantage of a Ball State error to plate the first run of the game against junior right-hander Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan). Rico Noel led off the inning with a double and came home to score when he stole third base and the throw sailed into left field.
Ball State came back to tie the game in the top of the third inning against Chanticleer starter Jim Birmingham. Sophomore second baseman Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) led off the inning with a single and junior shortstop T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) double to left field to put two in scoring position. Vitek helped his own cause as he lifted a sacrifice fly to right center field to knot the game at 1-1.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the afternoon in the top of the fourth inning as this time they took advantage of a Coastal Carolina miscue. Freshman Stephen Claypool (Highland, Ind./Andrean) started things off as he reached on a fielding error with two outs. Fellow freshman Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) drew a walk and Widau was hit by a pitch to load the bases and chase Birmingham from the game. Baumet picked up and RBI as he drew a five-pitch walk to plate Claypool with the go ahead run.
Ball State threatened in the top of the seventh inning as Baumet reached base for the fourth straight at bat as he singled to left field. The Cardinals executed a sacrifice bunt to move Baumet into scoring position, but the Chanticleers were able to record the final two outs and strand him at third base.
Coastal Carolina tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning against right-hander Heath Riley (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson). Riley got the first two outs of the inning but could not secure the third before Noel hit a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for the game-tying run.
The Chanticleers picked up the walk-off victory in the bottom of the ninth inning as once again they took advantage of the BSU error. Daniel Bowman reached on the error against Riley and Adam Rice put runners at the corners with an infield hit off of right-handed reliever Seth Hobbs (Marseilles, Ill./Seneca). Hobbs got the second out of the inning before issuing a walk to load the bases. Taylor Motter hit a ground ball into the hole behind third base and Claypool's throw for the third out at second base was late, allowing the game-winning run to score as Bowman crossed the plate.
Vitek went 4.0 innings in the no decision and allowed just one run on four hits while striking out two batters. Sophomore Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) was strong in relief as he went 3.0 scoreless innings and held the Chanticleers to just one hit while striking out four. Riley (0-1) was charged with the loss as he allowed two runs, one earned, in 1.1 innings of work.
Birmingham lasted just 3.2 innings as he allowed two runs on two hits but walked four batters. Keith Hessler came on in relief and went 2.2 scoreless innings before Josh Conway (1-0) went the final 2.2 innings without allowing a BSU hit.
Ball State continues its string of nine games in 10 days Tuesday afternoon as it travels to UNC Wilmington. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at Brooks Field with senior right-hander Brad Piatt (Galveston, Ind./Lewis Cass) set to take the hill for the Cardinals.