Ball State’s three Mid-American Conference specialty award winners led the Cardinals to a 5-3 win over Western Michigan in the first round of the MAC Tournament in Avon, Ohio, Wednesday afternoon.
Sean Godfrey, the 2014 MAC Player of the Year, knocked in three runs. Jarett Rindfleisch, the 2014 MAC Freshman Player of the Year, got the Cardinals started with a two-run homer in the bottom half of the first, and Zach Plesac, the 2014 MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year, earned the pitching victory.
Ball State advances to the second round where it will face Kent State, which defeated Bowling Green 6-2 in its first round game Wednesday. The two teams will face off at 8 p.m. Thursday night at All Pro Freight Stadium.
Plesac entered the game with the scored knotted at 3-3 in the sixth and preceded to strike out the first three batters he faced. He pitched four innings, allowing only four hits and no runs, while striking out four to improve to 12-2 on the year.
With two outs in the bottom half of the first inning, Rindfleish stepped to the plate and hit a two-run home run over the right field wall to give the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, the Broncos loaded the bases with one out, but T.J. Weir managed to strike out the next two Western Michigan players at the plate to get out of the jam and the Cardinals remained in the lead by a 2-0 margin.
However, Western Michigan was able to score three runs in the fifth and took a 3-2 lead into the bottom half of the fifth.
After falling behind through four and a half innings, Alex Call got the Cardinals started with a double down the left field line to start the Ball State half of the fifth. Ryan Spaulding grounded out to second, but advanced Call to third with one out. Godfrey lined a single to left to score Call and tied the game at three apiece through five frames.
In the seventh inning, Call was hit by a pitch and Spaulding was walked to put runners on first and second with one out and Godfrey at the plate. Once again, Godfrey answered the call with a double to left center field to score Call and Spaulding and the Cardinals now led 5-3.
Weir pitched five innings, allowing only two earned runs and striking out six before leaving the game with no decision.
Call was 3-for-3 on the day, while Godfrey was 2-for-4 with three runs-batted-in. Rindfleisch ended his day with a 2-for-4 performance from the plate and one RBI.
Ball State improved to 39-16 overall and will face Kent State, which is now 33-21 on the season.