A ninth inning single up the middle by Sean Kennedy scored the winning run in the Ball State baseball team’s 5-4 Mid-American Conference win over Kent State at Ball Diamond Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 34-16 overall and 18-4 in MAC play, while the Golden Flashes fell to 31-18 overall and 14-9 in the MAC. Ball State leads the MAC West Division, while Kent State entered the weekend as the leaders of the MAC East Division.
"Wow, what a victory," Ball State head coach Rich Maloney said. "Celebrating a come-from-behind victory in front of a good home crowd against an outstanding Kent State team was truly special. Proud of our guys never say die attitude. Fun to see the boy's so happy."
After Kent State took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth and put the MAC’s leading reliever Eric Dorsch on the mound, Ball State rallied for two runs to take the first two games of the three-game series. Dorsch entered the game with a MAC-best 10 saves on the season, but the Cardinals managed to score two runs and take the game by a 5-4 margin and give Dorsch his third loss in four decisions.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Call reached on an error by the Kent State second baseman who could not handle a pop up slightly onto the outfield grass. Ryan Spaulding followed with a double off the right field wall and the Cardinals had runners on second and third. Sean Godfrey, who leads the MAC in hits and runs-batted-in, was intentionally walked to load the bases. Cole Griesinger was called to the plate as a pinch hitter by Ball State head coach Rich Maloney and battled a 3-2 count by fouling off two pitches before being walked and allowing the tying run to score.
With the game all tied at 4-4 and bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Kennedy smacked a shot right up the middle to score Spaulding and give the Cardinals the 5-4 victory and two straight wins over the Golden Flashes in the three-game series.
Zach Plesac earned the pitching victory for the Cardinals to improve to 11-2 on the season after coming on in relief of starter Scott Baker. Baker pitched seven innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out four, before Plesac threw the final two frames, allowing one run and striking out one to get the win.
After Ball State took a 3-0 lead with a three-run third inning behind and RBI single from Spaulding and a two-RBI double from Jarett Rindfleisch, the Flashes responded with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3. Kent State threatened in the seventh inning and put runners on first and second with one out, but a Kyle Raleigh diving catch on a line shot down the left field line helped the Cardinals get out of the inning with the game still tied at three.
Call was 3-for-5 on the day with two runs scored, while Kennedy’s ninth-inning game winner was his first hit of the contest and ended his contest with a 1-for-3 performance. Spaulding managed to go 2-for-4 from the plate with one RBI and two runs scored, while Rindfleisch was 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Ball State will host the Flashes in the final game of the series Sunday as the Cardinals honor their 11 seniors in a Senior Day/Mother’s Day contest at 1 p.m. at Ball Diamond.