FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Ball State baseball team dropped the series finale Sunday afternoon to No. 15 Arkansas, 9-3, in front of a crowd of 6,536 at a wet Baum Stadium. The loss drops the Cardinals to 1-2 on the season, while Arkansas improves to 2-1 with the series victory.
"We had some opportunities on offense today, but our situational hitting wasn't where it needed to be," head coach Greg Beals said. "Defensively, we had two innings that got away from us on the mound and we can't allow that to happen against a team of Arkansas' caliber."
Ball State out-hit the Razorbacks by a 12-11 margin in the loss. Junior shortstop T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led the attack as he tallied three hits from his leadoff position while senior right fielder Ryan Chenoweth (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) notched two hits and scored two runs. Ten of the Cardinals' 11 hits came from the top five positions in their lineup.
Arkansas opened the scoring quickly against junior right-hander Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) as it plated four runs in the bottom of the first inning. James McCann did most of the damage as he notched a three-run home run in the first inning. Vitek settled in and posted three scoreless innings as he allowed just one hit after the first.
After the Razorbacks added a run in the fifth inning, Ball State broke through in the top of the sixth inning against reliever Drew Smyly. Chenoweth led off the inning as he doubled to right center field and moved to third on a Smyly wild pitch. Vitek continued his strong start at the plate as he drove in Chenoweth as he doubled down the right field line to narrow the score to 5-1.
Arkansas broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning as it took advantage of two walks and a hit by pitch. Ball State added three runs in the top of the seventh inning as the top of the lineup struck once again. Baumet led off with a single and Chenoweth recorded his second double of the game to put two in scoring position. After a wild pitch scored Baumet, sophomore first baseman Ian Nielsen (La Porte, Ind./La Porte) singled in Chenoweth for the final run of the game.
Vitek (0-1) picked up the loss as he was charged with four runs on five hits in 4.0 innings of work. Brett Eibner (1-0) notched the victory as he worked 3.0 scoreless innings while holding the Cardinals to just three hits.
Ball State returns to action next weekend when it travels to Birmingham, Ala., for a four-game series against UAB. First pitch Friday afternoon is 4 p.m. (CT).