MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State baseball team picked up its eighth Mid-American Conference victory of the season Sunday afternoon as the Cardinals defeated preseason MAC West Division favorite Central Michigan 8-1 at Ball Diamond. The victory improves the Cardinals to 8-6 in league play this season while the Chippewas fall to 9-6 in MAC action.
Senior right-hander Morgan Coombs (Terre Haute, Ind./Lincoln Trail) was stellar on the mound for the Cardinals are he tossed a career-high 8.0 innings and allowed just one run. Coombs limited the Chippewas to five hits while striking out six batters to improved to 4-3 on the year.
Junior second baseman Tim Issler (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) led the Cardinals' 16-hit attack as he posted a career-high five hits in the victory. Issler hit five singles on the afternoon in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings surpassing his previous career-high of three hits. The Cardinals' 16 hits match their season-high as they reached the mark March 18 at Belmont.
Central Michigan threatened in the top of the second inning but Coombs buckled down to keep the Chippewas off the board. Matt Faiman led off the inning as he tripled into the gap in right center field. Coombs stranded Faiman at third as he struck out two batters and got a pop fly to first base to end the inning.
Ball State took the momentum from the top of the inning and opened the scoring against right-hander Jake Sabol. Issler and freshman Sean Godfrey (New Albany, Ind./New Albany) put two aboard with back-to-back two out singles. Sophomore catcher Kevin Franchetti (Highland, Ind./Andrean) put the Cardinals in front 1-0 as he dropped a single down the left field line to score Issler.
Ball State broke open the game in the bottom of the fourth inning as it chased Sabol from the game. Sophomore Blake Beemer (Dayton, Ohio/Northmont) and Issler led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Godfrey drove in the first run of the inning as he singled through the left side to make it a 2-0 game.
After a wild pitch moved two into scoring position, sophomore left fielder Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) dropped a two-run single into center field for a 4-0 lead. Junior Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) kept the inning going as he doubled off the left field wall to score Winkle. Senior T.J. Baumet singled to end Sabol's afternoon and move Elliott to third base. The Cardinals capped the scoring as they executed a double steal plating Elliott to make it a 6-0 game.
The Cardinals extended their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning against left-hander Mike Nixon. Issler got things going as he poked his third straight single into center field. Franchetti put the Cardinals in front 8-0 as he hit his first career home run high over the left field wall.
Central Michigan was finally able to get to Coombs in the eighth inning scratching a run across the plate. Sam Russell drew a leadoff walk and moved to third after one out as Nate Theunissen notched a pinch hit single to center field. Coombs limited the Chippewas to just one run as he got Tyler Hall to lift a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Sabol (3-3) picked up the loss as lasted just 3.1 innings and allowed six runs on 10 hits as the first of five CMU pitchers.
Ball State will be off during the midweek before returning to MAC play next weekend with a three-game series at Ypsilanti, Mich., against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.