LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- For the second consecutive day in the weekend series between Ball State and New Mexico State, one team overcame a double-digit deficit to win.
This time it was the Cardinals that rallied from behind, scoring a 26-25 victory Sunday and earning a split of the four-game series. For the second straight weekend, Ball State won the last two games of its weekend series after losing the first two.
On a hitters' day at Presley Askew Field, with the wind blowing out to right field the entire game, New Mexico State built a 25-15 lead through five innings.
But over the final four innings, Ball State continued to pile up runs while the Cardinal pitching staff shut down the New Mexico State bats. After scoring 25 runs through five innings, the Aggies could not manage another run the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Ball State offense mounted a comeback. The Cardinals scored four runs in the sixth inning, one in the seventh and one in the eighth to cut the New Mexico State lead to 25-21 and set the stage for the ninth.
In the ninth inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out before right fielder Kory Benbow stepped to the plate and ripped a two-run double. Third baseman Joe Mack followed with and RBI single to left field to cut the lead to one, and catcher Zach Dygert notched the game-tying RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
With the bases still loaded, Wayne Bond Jr., who had led off the inning with a double, came back to the plate and singled to the left side of the infield to bring home the go-ahead run.
With Ball State now leading for the first time since the fourth inning, Heyne took the mound for his second full frame and finished off New Mexico State. The Aggies put runners on first and second base with no outs, but Heyne sent the next three batters down in order to secure the win.
Offensively, the Cardinals cranked out 21 hits as a team led by Bond Jr., who went 5-for-6 with a home run and five RBI. Benbow logged three hits and five RBI, and Mack also hit safely three times. The Cardinals also drew 14 walks in the game, led by designated hitter Justin Rogers with four and second baseman Jeremy Hazelbaker with three.
In a back-and forth game early on, Ball State managed to build a 15-11 lead through three-and-a-half innings. New Mexico State, though, racked up nine runs in the fourth inning and five more in the fifth to take the 25-15 lead before the Ball State comeback.
The teams combined for seven home runs in the game. The Cardinals hit four of them, including three in the third inning off the bats of Dygert, Rogers and Benbow.
Over the weekend's four games, the Cardinals scored 64 runs -- an average of 16 runs per game.
Ball State will continue non-conference play next weekend when the Cardinals travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Springmaid Beach Resort Tournament at Coastal Carolina. The Cardinals open the tournament Friday against Long Island.