MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State baseball team picked up its fourth win in a row as the Cardinals downed Northwestern Ohio 12-6 on a frigid Wednesday afternoon at Ball Diamond. The Cardinals return to Mid-American Conference play this weekend as they host preseason MAC West Division favorite Central Michigan in a three-game series.
Ball State (11-23) opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning against Racers' starter Austin Park. Sophomore Blake Beemer (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont) led off the inning with a single and freshman Sean Godfrey (New Albany, Ind./New Albany) drew a walk to put two aboard.
Freshman T.J. Weir (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) drove in two runs as he tripled into the right center field gap. Sophomore Kevin Franchetti (Highland, Ind./Andrean) put the Cardinals in front 3-0 as he drove a sacrifice fly to the left field wall to plate Weir.
Northwestern Ohio (15-25) answered back in the top of the third inning against redshirt freshman left-hander Kyle Raleigh (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills). After a leadoff walk, Alex McKinstry and Alex Czernewski posted back-to-back singles to score the Racers' first run of the afternoon. Freshman left-hander Devin Wilburn (Selma, Ind./Wapahani) came in and limited UNWO to just one more run getting three straight ground balls to make it a 3-2 contest.
The Cardinals added a run in the bottom of the fourth inning as Godfrey led off with a single. He moved all the way to third base as he stole second and advanced on a throwing error. He came home to score as Juan Espinoza uncorked a wild pitch put the Cardinals in front 4-2.
Ball State broke the game open in the fifth inning as it scored three more runs to take a 7-2 lead. Junior Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) and senior T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to score the first run of the frame. After a walk, freshman Kenny Mahala (Highland, Ind./Andrean) drove in Baumet with a single and Beemer drove a sacrifice fly to center field for a five-run lead.
The Cardinals added a run in the sixth, three in the seventh and one in the eighth inning to take home the victory Mahala posted his team-leading fourth home run in the seventh inning as the Cardinals recorded 12 hits in the victory.
Wilburn (1-1) picked up the victory in relief as he worked 4.0 shutout innings and allowed two hits while striking out a career-high five batters. Park (1-6) was charged with the loss for the Racers as he allowed three runs on four hits in 2.0 innings of work.
Ball State returns to MAC play this weekend as it hosts preseason MAC West Division favorite Central Michigan in a three-game series at Ball Diamond. The weekend begins Friday afternoon with junior right-hander Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) set to take the hill for the 3 p.m. first pitch.