Ball State’s baseball team, which has already clinched the Mid-American Conference Championship, the MAC West Division title and the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament, tallied a 4-1 victory over Northern Illinois in the second game of the three-game series Friday afternoon.
With the victory, Ball State head coach Rich Maloney became the winningest coach in school history with his 324th win for the Cardinals. Maloney, who also coached the Cardinals from 1996-2002, now has a 324-184-1 all-time mark at Ball State. He surpassed the 323 career Ball State wins by Pat Quinn from 1983-95.
After four innings of scoreless baseball with Ball State starting pitcher Scott Baker limiting the Huskies to only one hit, Sam Tidaback singled to open up the top of the fourth and a double by Elbert Devarie scored the Cardinals’ first run of the game. Alex Call stepped to the plate with two outs and singled up the middle to score Devarie and put Ball State up 2-0. Ryan Spaulding smacked a single to left to score Call and Ball State increased its lead to 3-0 after 4.5 innings.
Baker pitched six innings of nearly perfect baseball before loading the bases in the seventh and giving way to Nestor Bautista. Bautista struck out the first Northern Illinois’ hitter and forced a grounder to Devarie at shortstop for the final out of the inning and getting Ball State out of the jam.
Northern Illinois loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth before Bautista walked in a run to close the gap to 3-1 and Alex Maloney came on in relief for his seventh pitching appearance of the year. Maloney’s first pitch was flied out to center field and the score remained 3-1 entering the final frame.
In the Ball State half of the ninth inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases behind two walks and a hit batsman before Devarie grounded out to first that scored one run and increased the lead to 4-1.
Maloney struck out the first batter in the ninth, forced a groundout to Devarie at shortstop to get the second out and ended the game with a pop out to third.
Baker earned the victory to improve to 7-4 on the season, while Maloney tallied his first career save.
Spaulding was 2-for-5 on the day, while Devarie was 1-for-4 with two runs-batted-in and one run scored.
The two teams will meet in the final game of the series and the final game of the regular season Saturday at 1 p.m. (CT) in Dekalb, Ill.