Behind another stellar Ball State pitching effort from its starter and a pair of doubles from Sean Godfrey, the baseball team tallied a 6-5 win over Central Michigan and increased its lead to one and half games over the Chippewas in the Mid-American Conference West Division race.
Scott Baker, who allowed only five hits in 7.1 innings, struck out three CMU batters and gave up only three runs to earn the victory and improve to 6-4 on the season. Sean Godfrey was 2-for-5 from the plate with two doubles and two runs-batted-in.
"This was a huge win for us," Ball State head coach Rich Maloney said. "Scott Baker was outstanding. We got some offensive help from Ryan Spaulding in the way of two sacrifice flies and a big double. We are playing as a team right now."
The Cardinals broke open a scoreless game with a three-run fifth inning behind a pair of doubles from Alex Call and Sean Godfrey. Caleb Stayton opened the inning with a single up the middle and with one out, Alex Maloney singled to put runners at first and second. Call then tallied his 11th double of the season to break the 0-0 tie and score Stayton. A sacrifice fly by Ryan Spaulding scored Maloney, and then Godfrey’s 18th double of the year scored Call and the Cardinals led 3-0.
Ball State increased its lead to 4-0 in the seventh when Spaulding managed another sacrifice fly to score Maloney, who had reached base on a walk and advanced to third on a Call double down the right field line.
Nestor Bautista and Zach Plesac came on in relief for the Cardinals, and allowed only one earned run to the Chippewas in the final two innings. Plesac, the scheduled starter for Sunday’s game, earned his fifth save of the season and is 7-2 as a starter.
Ball State increased its lead with a pair of insurance runs in the ninth. With two outs in the inning, Spaulding doubled to score Sam Tidaback who had reached base on a walk. Godfrey’s second double of the game scored Spaulding and the Cardinals’ lead was increased to 6-3.
Spaulding managed one hit in three at-bats with three runs-batted-in and one run scored. Call was 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored, while Maloney was 1-for-3 with two runs scored.
The two teams will square off in the finale of the three-game series Sunday at 1 p.m. in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Ball State improved to 29-14 overall and 13-3 in the MAC, while the Chippewas fell to 12-5 in league play and 25-17 overall.