LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Ball State baseball team dropped a hard fought 11-7 contest to seventh-ranked Louisville Friday afternoon in the first of a three-game series at Jim Patterson Stadium. The loss is the Cardinals' sixth of the season against a nationally ranked opponent as they fall to 5-12 on the year while Louisville improves to 16-1 on the season and 11-0 at home.
Ball State tallied 10 hits in the loss including four players recording two hits apiece. Junior second baseman Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) tallied a pair of hits to raise his team-leading batting average to .417 on the season. Sophomore first baseman Ian Nielsen (La Porte, Ind./La Porte) also added two hits, including his first home run of the season. Louisville was led by third baseman Phil Wunderlich who notched four hits, including a pair of home runs in the victory.
Ball State opened the scoring in the top of the first inning against Louisville right-hander Thomas Royse. Junior shortstop T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led off the game as he doubled off of the center field wall. BSU moved Baumet to third base with a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt and Vitek broke the scoring with a single up the middle to plate just the third earned run of the season against Royse.
Louisville answered back in the bottom of the second inning against BSU right-hander Brad Piatt (Galveston, Ind./Lewis Cass). Wunderlich started things off with a one out double into left center field. Louisville manufactured its run with a fly ball into right field and a ground ball tying the game at 1-1. Ball State retook the lead in the top of the fourth inning as it tallied a two-out run against Royse. Nielsen gave the Cardinals the lead as he hit his first home run of the season over the center field wall.
Louisville answered right back in the bottom half of the inning as it plated four runs to take a 5-2 lead. Ryan Wright and Phil Wunderlich opened the inning with back-to-back home runs to take its first lead of the afternoon at 3-2. Louisville continued its inning with three more hits to take the three-run lead against Piatt.
Ball State got one run back in the top of the fifth inning as freshman Blake Beemer (Clayton, Ohio/Northmont) led off with a single and freshman Stephen Claypool (Dearborn, Mich./Divine Child) put to in scoring position as he reached on a ground rule double.
Baumet drew a one-out walk to load the bases and senior Ryan Chenoweth (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) singled to right field to plate Beemer with BSU's third run. Royse was able to work out of the inning without any further damage as he tallied a strike out and a fly ball to center field to end the Ball State threat. Louisville broke the game back open in the bottom of the fourth inning as it scored four runs courtesy of two home runs to take a 9-3 lead.
Ball State worked its way back into the game with four runs in the top of the seventh inning to chase Royse from the game. Freshman Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) opened the inning with a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position with his second stolen base of the season. Claypool reached base on a fielding error that allowed Campbell to come around from second and score the first run of the inning.
Baumet kept the inning alive as he reached on a single to put two aboard. Vitek drove in his second run of the game as he ripped a single through the left side to make it a 9-5 contest. The Cardinals executed a double steal to move both into scoring position and senior catcher Zach Dygert (Angola, Ind./Angola) lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field to plate Baumet. Ball State capped the four-run inning as Nielsen drove in his second run of the afternoon with a two-out, two-strike single into right field to narrow the Cardinals' deficit to 9-7.
Louisville picked up a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to extend its lead to 11-7. Wright and Wunderlich did the damage once again as they each drove in a run in the inning to give U of L a four-run cushion and secure the victory.
Piatt (0-2) was charged with the loss as he allowed five runs on six hits in 4.0 innings of work. Royse (4-0) tallied the victory as he worked 6.2 innings and allowed seven runs on nine hits. The seven runs scored against Royse are a season-high as he entered the game only allowing three runs against in his first four starts. Neil Holland recorded his fourth save of the season as he tossed 2.0 scoreless innings.
Ball State and Louisville will continue its series Saturday afternoon with game two set for a 1 p.m. first pitch at Patterson Stadium.