KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The Ball State baseball team earned an important Mid-American Conference victory Friday with an 11-4 win in the series opener at Western Michigan.
The teams were locked in a pitchers' duel through the first four innings, but the Ball State offense erupted to score all of its 11 runs in the final five innings. Seven of the Cardinals' 13 hits in the game went for extra bases, including four home runs.
Ball State starting pitcher Tyler Pritchard turned in one of his strongest outings of the season to earn the win on the mound. The senior right-hander out-dueled Western Michigan ace Ethan Hollingsworth, allowing just one run on four hits in six innings of work.
The Ball State defense behind Pritchard was solid, as well. The Cardinals played an errorless game and turned a pair of double plays.
Shortstop Dean Anna led the Cardinals offensively with a triple, a home run and three RBI. Center fielder Wayne Bond Jr., right fielder Ryan Chenoweth and second baseman T.J. Baumet also added two hits each.
Ball State (23-15, 8-5 MAC) broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the fifth inning. After making a tough back-handed play at second base to end the fourth inning, Baumet led off the fifth with a solo home run deep over the 400-foot mark in center field to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard.
Anna then walked and advanced to third on a single by Bond. Anna later scored on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Justin Rogers. Catcher Zach Dygert then closed the scoring for the inning the way it started. Dygert sent a pitch deep to center field to put the Cardinals ahead 3-0.
Ball State built its lead to 6-0 with three more runs in the sixth inning. Chenoweth led off with a double, advanced to third and then came home to score on a triple from Anna. Bond then followed with a two-run home run to give the Cardinals a six-run edge.
Western Michigan (20-14-1, 5-8 MAC) picked up a run in the bottom of the sixth inning -- its only run against Pritchard -- on a solo home run from second baseman Zach Gentile to cut the Ball State lead to 6-1.
The Broncos then tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning. A solo home run from center fielder Joe Sheets and an RBI single from right fielder Pedro Dager cut the Cardinals' advantage to 6-3.
Ball State, however, quickly opened its lead back up to 8-3 with a two-run homer from Anna in the eighth. The blast to right field was Anna's team-leading 10th home run of the season.
Western Michigan managed one run in the eighth, but Ball State picked up three in the ninth for the final seven-run margin.
Game two of the three-game weekend series is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday at Western Michigan's Hyames Field.