MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State baseball team scored two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to post a 5-4 walk-off victory over Mid-American Conference West Division leader Eastern Michigan Sunday afternoon at Ball Diamond, claiming the Cardinals' second series victory of the year. The Cardinals scored the game-winning run off a wild pitch on an intentional walk attempt with two outs scoring freshman Brandon Estep (Selma, Ind./Wapahani) from third base.
Ball State entered the bottom of the 10th inning trailing 4-3 when junior Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) led off with a single up the middle. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to second, Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) drew a walk to move the tying run into scoring position.
Estep reached on a fielder's choice as EMU got the lead runner out on the play, leaving runners on first and second with two outs. Sophomore shortstop T.J. Weir (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo) tied the game as he lined a run-scoring single down the left field line scoring Widau with the Cardinals' fourth run.
The Eastern Michigan left fielder misplayed the ball allowing Estep and Weir to move into scoring position setting the stage for the dramatic ending. The Eagles called for the intentional walk to load the bases but right-hander Joe Battistelli sailed the first pitch all the way to the backstop and Estep beat the catcher's throw to the plate scoring the game-winning run.
The dramatic ending was made possible by the best start of sophomore right-hander Jacob Brewer's (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's) career. Brewer went a career-high 8.0 innings and allowed three runs on just four hits while tossing a career-high 122 pitches in the no decision. Sophomore left-hander Nestor Bautista (New York, N.Y./George Washington) picked up his first career victory in relief, working the final 1.2 innings and allowing one run on one hit.
Ball State (11-26, 6-9 MAC) opened the scoring quickly against EMU right-hander Ryan Lavoie, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. Junior Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) led off the game reaching on an infield single and came home to score as Estep doubled over the left fielder's head for the game's first run.
Weir kept the inning going as he reached on an infield single. First baseman Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) put the Cardinals in front 3-0 as he lined a two-run double off the right field wall to plate both Estep and Weir.
Eastern Michigan (18-21, 9-6 MAC) finally broke through against Brewer in the top of the sixth inning as it took advantage of two walks and a single to load the bases with two outs. Brewer got two strikes on Daniel Russell before he hit a bases clearing triple off the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3.
Eastern Michigan threatened in the top of the ninth as left-hander Devin Wilburn (Selma, Ind./Wapahani) issued two walks putting the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. Bautista came on in relief and induced an inning-ending ground ball double play to keep the game tied in the ninth inning.
Eastern Michigan took its only lead of the afternoon in the top of the 10th inning as Bautista issued a two-out walk to Sam Ott who moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Lee Longo put the Eagles in front 4-3 with a two-out single setting the stage for the Cardinals' heroics in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Battistelli (2-5) picked up the loss for the Eagles despite working 4.2 solid innings of relief as he allowed two runs on two hits. Lavoie lasted just 5.0 innings in the no decision allowing three runs, all in the first inning, on five hits.
Ball State returns to action Wednesday afternoon as it travels to No. 17 Purdue. First pitch in West Lafayette, Ind., is set for 4 p.m.