A four-run ninth inning, highlighted by an Ian Nielsen two RBI double, led Ball State to a 9-5 victory at UAB Friday in the first of a four-game series with the Blazers.
In a game that was tied six times, it came down to Ball State's final at bat and Nielsen's timely hitting for a victory.
Ryan Chenoweth led off the ninth with a rightfield single and Kolbrin Vitek moved him to third by stretching out a double on a line drive to centerfield. UAB intentionally walked Zach Dygert to load the bases with no outs. Nielsen smacked his game-winning double over the rightfielders head to the warning track and scored Chenoweth and Vitek to give the Cardianals a 7-5 edge and runners on second and third with no outs. A UAB passed ball scored Dygert and Ball State led 8-5. Dygert scored on a passed ball and Ball State pulled out the win 9-5.
Brad Piatt started the game for the Cardinals and pitched three and two thirds, allowing three earned runs and striking out three batters. Perci Garner, who was credited with the win, came on in relief and struck out six while allowing only one earned run in three and a third innings. Morgan Coombs faced the final batter of the game to record his first save of the year.
Nielsen was 3-for-5 for the game with two RBI and three runs scored. Vitek totalled three hits in five at bats with two runs scored and one RBI.
Ball State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off the first home run of the season from junior Kolbrin Vitek. With two outs in the first inning, Vitek hit a hard homer over the 370 mark in left centerfield.
After UAB took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first, the Cardinals responded with one run in the top of the second to tie the game at 2-2.
Nielsen started the second with a double -- his second of the season. A single by Kory Benbow that was stopped by a diving third baseman, put runners on first and second for the Cardinals. Kirby Campbell's sacrifice bunt gave Ball State runners on second and third. Freshman third baseman Stephen Claypool lined an RBI single and Ball State tied UAB, 2-2.
After the Blazers held Ball State scoreless in the second and added one run in the bottom of the third, UAB took a 3-2 advantage.
In the top of the fourth, Nielsen singled and Kirby Campbell's infield single gave the Cardinals runners on first and second with one out. Nielsen stole third to give Ball State runners at the corners and with Claypool's missed swing on a third strike, UAB's play on Campbell stealing second failing to get him out at second, Nielsen scored to tie the score at 3-3.
UAB added its fourth run of the game in the bottom of the fourth and took a 4-3 lead in the game.
Chenoweth led off the fifth inning by reaching first on a hit by pitch. A Vitek single followed and the Cardinals executed a double steal to put runners on second and third. With two outs and Kory Benbow at the plate, a UAB wild pitch scored Chenoweth and the game was tied 4-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, UAB scored a go ahead run and led 5-4 with two frames to play.
Benbow laced his first home run of the season over the left centerfield wall with one out in the top half of the eighth to tie the game at 5-5.