MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State baseball team dropped a pair of games Saturday to Akron at Ball Diamond as the Zips claimed the opening series of Mid-American Conference play.
Ball State’s Billy Wellman went 6-for-8 at the plate for the day as the Cardinals fought back from early deficits in both games but came up short.
The Cardinals dropped to 11-10 (1-2 MAC) with the losses, while Akron improved to 4-17 (2-1 MAC).
The teams played a doubleheader Saturday to finish off the series because of the forecast for unfavorable weather on Sunday. Ball State is now scheduled to return to action with a midweek home game Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Valparaiso.
Game 1: Akron 7, Ball State 4
Ball State found some offense over the second half of Saturday’s first game but could not overcome a 7-0 deficit through five innings.
Akron starter John Valek (2-3) worked six innings to earn the win and kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard until his final frame on the mound. Ball State scored a pair of runs that inning on an RBI triple from Sean Godfrey followed by a Cody Campbell sacrifice fly.
Akron maintained its 7-2 lead until the ninth inning when Ball State tried to mount a rally. Dominick Catanzarite plated a run when he reached on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, and Blake Beemer followed with an RBI single to cut the Zips’ lead to three runs.
The Cardinals still had two runners on with just one out, but Akron turned the ball over to Matt LaRocca who picked up the final two outs to close out the game.
Jon Cisna (1-1) started on the mound for Ball State and suffered the loss after allowing seven runs, two of which were unearned, in four and one-third innings.
Akron got on the board with two runs in the second and then added two more in the fourth with the help of three uncharacteristic Ball State errors.
The Zips picked up three critical insurance runs in the fifth with a trio of RBI singles from Brady Stewart, Tyler Begun and Darius Washington before the Cardinals got the bats going.
Game 2: Akron 4, Ball State 3
Ball State came from three runs down to tie Saturday’s second game in the seventh inning, but Akron pushed across the go-ahead run in the ninth and held on for the win.
Wellman went 4-for-4 and drove in a run for Ball State, while Scott Baker settled in after a tough start on the mound to keep the Cardinals in the game.
Akron used a two-out single from Devan Ahart off reliever Clay Manering in the top of the ninth to break a 3-3 tie with what proved to be the winning run. Godfrey singled and stole second for Ball State with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Cardinals could not get the tying run home.
Baker, who had won all five of his previous starts this season, wound up with a no-decision. After allowing three runs, two of which were earned, in the first two innings, Baker found a groove and retired 13 out of 14 batters at one point.
Baker handed the ball over to reliever Tyler Jordan with one out in the eighth inning. Jordan (1-3), who picked up the win in Friday’s series opener, was later charged with the Zips’ go-ahead run in the ninth and suffered the loss.
Akron reliever Samuel Trecaso (1-1), who took the loss in the series opener, picked up the win after pitching a scoreless eighth inning.
After falling behind 3-0 early, Ball State scored a pair of runs in the sixth on an RBI single from Wellman and a sac fly from Elbert Devarie. The Cardinals then scored the tying run in the seventh on a single from Godfrey before Akron scored the game-winner.