LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- The Ball State baseball team suffered an 8-7 defeat Friday in the first game of its four-game weekend series at New Mexico State.
The Cardinals pounded out a season-high 12 hits and scored in all but three innings, but a ninth-inning New Mexico State rally sealed the win for the Aggies.
Ball State (2-3) trailed almost the entire game until the Cardinals' Joe Mack entered the contest as a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth inning. With two outs, a runner on second base and New Mexico State leading 6-4, Mack belted a two-run home run to left center field to tie the game.
But the tie was short-lived. New Mexico State (3-1) managed two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to take control again. The Aggies scored two unearned runs with two outs. They plated one on a Ball State error and another on an RBI single from first baseman Christopher Auten.
In its final opportunity, Ball State then put runners on the corners with no outs in the top of the ninth inning. The Cardinals managed one run on an RBI groundout from first baseman Matt Stoeklen, but the rally came up one run short.
The two teams will take the field again Saturday for a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. MST (4 p.m. Muncie time). Sunday's series finale is slated for 1 p.m. MST.
In Friday's contest, New Mexico State's Kent Williamson earned the win on the mound, while Jeremy Joustra picked up the save. Ball State's Aaron Hammons took the loss.
Vitek -- who blasted his first collegiate home run on a solo shot in the sixth inning -- continued his hot hitting. The freshman continues to lead Ball State at the plate with a .438 batting average.
New Mexico State center fielder Joseph Scaperotta led all players Friday with three hits and three RBI.
The Aggies started the scoring with two runs in the second inning. They managed back-to-back singles from second baseman Bryan Marquez and catcher Joe Leghorn to lead off the inning. The pair later came around to score on a sacrifice fly from shortstop Richard Stout and an RBI single from Scaperotta.
Ball State scored one run in the third inning and one in the fourth to tie the score 2-2. The Cardinals' third-inning run came on a solo homer from center fielder Wayne Bond Jr., and Ball State scored in the fourth inning on an RBI single from catcher Zach Dygert.
As quickly as the Cardinals had tied the game, New Mexico State extended its lead back to two. The Aggies picked up two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI groundout from right fielder Marcos Rosales and a run-scoring double from Scaperotta.
The teams then traded runs in the fifth and sixth innings as the Aggies maintained a two-run advantage until Mack's eighth inning home run tied the score.
Ball State hit a season-high three home runs in the loss.