OXFORD, Ohio - The Ball State baseball team picked up its second straight Mid-American Conference series victory as the Cardinals knocked off Mid-American Conference East Division leader Miami 6-3 Sunday afternoon at McKie Field. The victory improves the Cardinals to 4-2 this season in MAC play while it drops the RedHawks down to 4-2 in league action.
Senior right-hander Morgan Coombs (West Terre Haute, Ind./Lincoln Trail) gave the Cardinals another strong start as he worked 7.1 innings and limited the RedHawks to three runs on six hits. Coombs improved to 2-3 on the season with the victory as he struck out seven batters. Senior right-hander Scott Brothers Jr. (Monticello, Ind./Gulf Coast CC) posted his first career save as he worked the final 1.1 innings of shutout baseball to preserve the victory.
Ball State (6-19, 4-2 MAC) struck first in the top of the second against Miami right-hander Brooks Fiala. Freshman Kenny Mahala (Highland, Ind./Andrean) led off the inning with a single to right field and sophomore Blake Beemer (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont) went opposite field for a single to put two aboard with nobody out.
Sophomore third baseman Stephen Claypool (Dearborn, Mich./Divine Child) gave the Cardinals the early lead as he executed a hit-and-run with a single into center field to bring Mahala home from second base and move Beemer all the way to third. Sophomore Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) put the Cardinals in front 2-0 as he dropped down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt that plated Beemer easily for his sixth RBI of the year.
Ball State added to its lead in the top of the third inning against left-handed reliever Seth Varner. Junior second baseman Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond), fresh off a dazzling defensive play to end the bottom of the second inning, led off the inning with a line drive single up the middle. Redshirt freshman Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) worked back from a 0-2 count before crushing a 2-2 pitch high over the center field wall for his second home run of the season and a 4-0 Ball State lead.
Miami (13-14, 4-2 MAC) broke through against Coombs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kyle Weldon started things off as he lined a single through the right side with one out. Miami designated hitter Kevin Bower came within inches of a home run but the ball clanged off the right center field wall for a run-scoring double to make it a 4-1 game.
Miami threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning as Coombs hit Ryan Kraup to lead off the inning. The RedHawks posted two straight deep fly ball outs before Adam Weisenberger drew a walk to put two aboard. Coombs got a ground ball from Bower that hit the first base bag, but Mahala was able to snag the ball and toss it to Coombs covering for the third out of the inning.
The Cardinals got an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning to run their lead to 5-1. Senior shortstop T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) gave the Cardinals a four-run cushion as he drilled a 2-0 pitch high over the scoreboard in left center field for his second home run of the season to end Varners' day.
The RedHawks again threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning but Coombs was able to buckle down and keep Miami off the board. Brad Gschwind got things going as he was hit by a pitch with one out. Ryan Brenner kept the inning going as he poked an opposite field single down the left field line to put two aboard. Coombs ended the threat as struck out Kraup swinging for his sixth strike out of the game.
Miami narrowed the gap to 5-3 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Weldon got the RedHawks on the board in the inning as he hit his team-leading sixth home run over the center field wall off of Coombs. Adam Weisenberger followed with a double into left center field, ending Coombs' afternoon. Ryan Curl drove in Weisenberger with a line drive single up the middle off of Brothers who ended the frame as he got a foul pop fly from Gschwind to strand Curl on base.
Ball State got some much needed insurance in the top of the ninth inning against Miami closer Brandon Adkins. Sophomore Kevin Franchetti (Highland, Ind./Andrean) started things off as he worked a one out walk before Campbell was hit by a pitch to put two aboard.
Adkins got the second out of the inning before junior center fielder Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) poked a full count pitch through the hole in the right side to plate pinch runner Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) from second base to make it a 6-3 lead. Brothers was able to work around a base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure the victory.
Wellman was one of seven Cardinals to post a hit in the victory as he tallied two hits, including his second home run. Beemer and Elliott each added a pair of hits in the victory as Ball State out-hit the RedHawks 10-8 on the afternoon.
Fiala (2-3) was charged with the loss as he allowed two runs on four hits in just 1.2 innings of work. Varner tossed 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on four hits while four other Miami pitchers worked the final 2.2 innings allowing one run on two hits.
Ball State returns to action Wednesday night as it travels to Terre Haute, Ind., for a non-conference contest against instate rival Indiana State. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Bob Warn Field.