VALAPRAISO, Ind. - The Ball State baseball team suffered a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to Valparaiso Wednesday afternoon in its final non-conference game of the 2012 season at Emory G. Bauer Field. The loss drops the Cardinals to 11-33 on the season while the Crusaders improve to 27-21 on the year.
Valparaiso opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning against left-handed reliever Jon Cisna (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township). The Crusaders opened the inning as Steven Scoby singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Valparaiso continued its bunting ways as Tanner Vavra dropped down a bunt single before Chris Manning executed a suicide squeeze bunt to score the first run of the game. The Crusaders took a 2-0 lead as Will Hagel followed with a single into right field scoring Vavra.
Ball State answered back in the top of the fourth inning against right-hander Will Robinson. Junior Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) led off the inning with a single and quickly stole second base. After a sacrifice bunt moved Winkle to third, freshman Brandon Estep (Selma, Ind./Wapahani) lifted a sacrifice fly into center field to make it a 2-1 contest.
The Cardinals tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning as senior Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) led off with a single. Estep sacrificed Widau into scoring position before first baseman Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) lined a single down the right field line to tie the game.
The Ball State bullpen put up 6.1 innings of shutout baseball after Cisna left the game in the second inning. Four different relievers combined to limit the Crusaders to just three hits during that stretch. The Cardinals' defense also played a key role in the tight affair as it turned a season-high four double plays, including one in the eighth inning to end a Valparaiso scoring threat.
Valparaiso held the Cardinals off the board in the top of the 10th inning despite a single by sophomore T.J. Weir (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo). The Crusaders led off the bottom half of the inning with a single by Vavra who was quickly sacrificed into scoring position. Hagel gave Valparaiso the walk-off victory as he singled into left field scoring Vavra for the 3-2 victory.
Freshman right-hander Scott Baker (North Manchester, Ind./Manchester) picked up the loss as the Cardinals' seventh pitcher of the afternoon as he worked a third of an inning in the 10th frame. Jarad Miller (5-2) picked up the victory for the Crusaders as he worked the scoreless 10th inning as the third Valparaiso pitcher of the afternoon.
Ball State continues its season-ending seven-game road swing this weekend as it returns to Mid-American Conference play with a three-game series against Central Michigan. First pitch Friday is set for 3 p.m.