MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State baseball team dropped a hard-fought 3-2 Mid-American Conference contest to rival Western Michigan Saturday afternoon at Ball Diamond. The Cardinals allowed three unearned runs in the loss as they committed four fielding errors on the afternoon.
Junior right-hander Chris Marangon (Maple Valley, Wash./Edmunds CC) was the hard luck loser as he worked 7.1 innings of six-hit baseball and did not allow an earned run, while striking out three. Western Michigan left-hander Steve Laudicina improved to 5-4 on the season as he allowed two runs while scattering 10 hits in 6.1 innings of work.
Western Michigan (19-24, 9-10 MAC) opened the scoring in the top of the second inning against Marangon. Ryan McMillan led off the inning with a hit by pitch and moved to second on a ground ball. The Broncos scored the game's first run as Andrew Sohn reached on a two-base error allowing McMillan to score from second base.
Ball State answered back in the bottom half of the inning with a run to tie the game. Sophomore T.J. Weir (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) led off the inning drawing a walk and reached third as junior Blake Beemer (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont) lined a one-out single into center field. Freshman Elbert Devarie (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway) dropped down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt plating Beemer and reaching first base to tie the game at 1-1.
Ball State took its only lead of the afternoon in the bottom of the fourth inning as Beemer led off the inning with a bunt single. After a ground ball by Devarie moved the runner into scoring position, sophomore Mitch Overley (Zionsville, Ind./Brebeuf) lined a two-strike, run-scoring single into right center field to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Western Michigan retook the lead in the top of the seventh inning as it scored two runs without a hit to go in front 3-2. The Broncos took advantage of three Ball State errors in the inning and a walk to score the unearned runs.
Ball State threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning as Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) reached on a fielder's choice and Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) singled through the right side to put runners on the corners with one out. WMU reliever Monty Porter came on and got a big strikeout for the second out of the inning before Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) just missed a home run as he flew out to the wall in left field to end the inning.
Western Michigan tried to add an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning as Jack Scanlon and Patrick Duncan singled to put runners on the corners with one out ending Marangon's afternoon. Sophomore left-hander Devin Wilburn (Selma, Ind./Wapahani) came on in relief and on one pitch got an inning-ending double play to keep it a one-run contest.
Ball State came within inches of winning the game in the bottom of the ninth inning as Kevin Franchetti (Highland, Ind./Andrean) singled with one out. Winkle stepped up and drilled the first pitch he saw deep into left field but the potential home run was caught high against the wall for the second out of the inning ending any threat of a walk-off victory.
Ball State and Western Michigan will conclude its three-game series Sunday afternoon in the home finale of the 2012 season. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Ball Diamond. The Cardinals will recognize seniors Ross Overstreet (Greenfield, Ind./Lincoln Trail), Tim Issler (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier), Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) and Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) prior to the game.