DADE CITY, Fla. -- The Ball State men’s golf team posted a 4-2 win Tuesday over No. 1 seed Eastern Michigan to win the Mid-American Match Play for the second time in three years.
The Cardinals, seeded No. 2 based on the Golfstat rankings, hosted the third annual event on the South Course at Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club.
Tyler Merkel finished off a perfect week Tuesday with his third straight win. McCormick Clouser, James Blackwell and Zach Yinger also won matches as the middle of the lineup carried the Cardinals to the team victory over Eastern Michigan.
Blackwell posted the largest margin of the day with a 6 and 5 win over Josh Heinze, while Yinger was a 4 and 3 winner over Kyle Rodes. Merkel defeated Brett White, 3 and 1, and Clouser topped Michael Blair, 2 and 1.
Eastern Michigan picked up its wins at the No. 1 position, where Brian Churchill-Smith defeated Keegan McKinney, 4 and 3, and at the No. 6 spot, where Joseph Kremer handed Albert Jennings his first loss of the week, 2 and 1.
Jennings and Blackwell sent Ball State into the championship match earlier in the day when play resumed after darkness halted it the night before. They each won the final hole of their second round matches to help Ball State to a 3-3 tie with Xavier, and the Cardinals advanced on a tiebreaker.
Xavier bounced back later in the day to defeat Eastern Kentucky in the third-place match. Miami University beat Toledo for fifth place, and Ohio topped Bowling Green for seventh.
Ball State has now reached the championship match in all three years the Mid-American Match Play has been contested. The Cardinals won the inaugural tournament in 2012 and finished as the runner-up to Bowling Green in 2013.
In a rematch of that contest, Ball State defeated Bowling Green in Monday's first-round before getting past Xavier in the second.
The championship bracket at this year's tournament was named in honor of former Ball State coach Earl Yestingsmeier, who passed away last month. Yestingsmeier guided the Cardinals for 36 seasons, leading the program to 107 tournament titles and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Yestingsmeier retired in 1998 but continued to travel with the team to virtually every tournament. This was Ball State's first event since his passing.