AVON, Ohio - The Ball State baseball team (31-23) knocked top-seeded Kent State (36-23) out of the Mid-American Conference Tournament with a 4-1 victory Saturday morning at All-Pro Freight Stadium.
The fourth-seeded Cardinals now advance to the MAC Tournament Championship Game for the first time since 2006. Head coach Rich Maloney, in the first season of his second stint with Ball State, coached the Cardinals to the championship game in 2002.
Chris Marangon got the win for the Cardinals on the mound after eight innings of work. He gave up one run on six hits while striking out three batters. MAC Pitcher of the Year Scott Baker, who started the tournament opener, closed the contest for Ball State to earn the first save of his career.
Ball State will face No. 6 seed Bowling Green for the MAC Tournament crown Sunday at noon. The Falcons needed two games Saturday but managed to get past No. 7 seed Toledo to emerge from their half of the bracket.
After three scoreless innings Saturday morning, Kent State took the early 1-0 edge over Ball State in the top of the fourth. T.J. Sutton singled to centerfield which brought home his teammate George Roberts who had been previously walked.
In the fifth inning, the Cardinals held the Golden Flashes scoreless after two great catches from Blake Beemer out in left field. Ball State then tied the score 1-1 in its at bat. T.J. Weir led off the inning with a single. A sacrifice bunt from Cole Griesinger was successful in moving Weir to second. Sam Tidaback singled to the left side to put Weir into scoring position. Elbert DeVarie would then bring home Weir after a single straight up the middle.
The Cardinals tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sean Godfrey started the inning off with a double down the left field line. Cody Campbell's fly ball was caught which advanced Godfrey. Billy Wellman then hit an RBI single through the right side to bring home Godfrey. With two outs, Tidaback hit a shot straight up the middle allowing Wellman to cross the plate.
It was three-up-three-down for Kent State in top of the seventh. Ball State crossed the plate again in the bottom of the seventh. Ryan Spaulding reached base on an error, advanced on a perfectly placed bunt from Godfrey and then scored on a Campbell single to right center.
The Cardinals' defense held the Golden Flashes scoreless in the eighth and ninth. Marangon started the ninth, but Maloney soon brought in Tyler Jordan to replace him after he walked the first batter.
After a double play, Jordan gave up two singles. Miles Moeller then came into replace Jordan. Moeller walked the first batter. With two outs and the bases loaded, Maloney brought in his ace, Baker, to close. Baker earned his first save when Campbell made the game-ending defensive play at second.