MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - In a game that saw five lead changes, the Ball State baseball team dropped a hard-fought 6-5 decision to Mid-American Conference foe Central Michigan Friday afternoon at Theunissen Stadium. The Cardinals had the game-tying run at third base in the top of the ninth inning before seeing their rally come up just short.
Junior Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) paced the Cardinals' attack as he posted three hits on the afternoon, while scoring a run and driving in a run. Redshirt sophomore Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) added two hits in the Cardinals' eight-hit afternoon.
Central Michigan (26-25, 13-9 MAC) opened the scoring early against sophomore right-hander T.J. Weir (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo), bringing home a run in the bottom of the first inning. Tyler Hall posted a leadoff double and after a sacrifice bunt, came home to score on a routine ground ball for the early 1-0 lead.
Ball State (11-34, 6-16 MAC) answered back in the top of the third inning against Zach Cooper scoring two runs taking a 2-1 lead. The Cardinals took advantage of two Central Michigan errors in the inning to take their first lead of the afternoon. Winkle doubled down the left field line and came home to score as Weir reached on a fielding error. Wellman followed with a single into center field that saw Weir come home to score as the CMU center fielder misplayed the ball giving the Cardinals the lead.
Central Michigan answered right back in the bottom half of the inning as Jordan Dean led off with his team-leading seventh home run of the year to knot the game at 2-2. The two teams traded runs in the fourth inning as Winkle drove in the Cardinals' run with an infield single and Central Michigan picked up a sacrifice fly from Pat MacKenzie to tie the game at 3-3.
Ball State took its final lead of the afternoon in the top of the fifth inning as Wellman reached third base on two errors by the Chippewa outfield. Junior Blake Beemer (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont) put the Cardinals in front at 4-3 as he lifted a sacrifice fly into right field plating Wellman.
Central Michigan once again answered right back as it plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead. The Chippewas strung together three hits in the inning and took advantage of a BSU fielding error to take the lead back for good.
The two teams settled in until the ninth inning when the Cardinals tried to mount a game-tying rally against CMU closer Jon Weaver. Pinch hitter Dominick Catanzarite (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) led off the inning with a single and Winkle followed with a one-out single. After a fielder's choice put runners on the corners, Weir was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs and the Cardinals trailing by two runs.
Wellman narrowed the gap to 6-5 as he drew a four-pitch walk scoring Catanzarite and bringing the game-tying run to third base. Beemer worked the count to 2-2 but hit a hard shot to third base that was knocked down before getting the force out at third base to end the game securing the Chippewas' victory.
Weir (2-9) picked up the loss as he worked 6.0 innings and allowed six runs, four earned, on eight hits while striking out four. Senior Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) added a scoreless inning of relief striking out two while Matt Johnsen (Barrington, Ill./Fremd) also kept the Chippewas off the board with an inning of work.
Cooper improved to 6-4 on the year as he went 8.0 innings and allowed four runs on six hits while striking out six. Weaver picked up his fifth save of the year despite allowing one run on two hits in an inning of work.
Ball State and Central Michigan will continue its three-game series Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. with junior right-hander Chris Marangon (Maple Valley, Wash./Edmunds CC) set to take the hill for the Cardinals.