LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Ball State baseball earned a hard fought doubleheader split Saturday afternoon as No. 7 Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium. Ball State dropped an 8-2 decision in game one and earned a stellar 5-1 victory in game two as it gave Louisville just its second loss of the year.
The victory in game two marks the Cardinals' second win this season against a nationally ranked opponent as they defeated No. 15 Arkansas in the opening weekend. Ball State has now played eight games against nationally ranked teams and owns a 6-13 overall record, while Louisville falls to 17-2 on the season.
Game One - #7 Louisville 8, Ball State 2
Ball State dropped game one of the doubleheader against seventh-ranked Louisville by an 8-2 margin in front of 2,362 fans.
Louisville opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning against sophomore right-hander Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown). Adam Duvall and Ryan Wright hit back-to-back singles with one out to put two in scoring position for U of L third baseman Phil Wunderlich. Bowling was able to induce just a ground ball to first base for an out but Duvall scored the first run of the game to put Louisville in front 1-0.
Louisville broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 6-0 lead. U of L took advantage of two Ball State errors in the inning as all five runs scored were unearned. Adam Duvall tallied a two-run double and Ryan Wright notched a two-run home run off the batter's eye in center field to highlight the inning.
Ball State tallied its first run in the top of the fourth inning against Louisville starter Dean Kiekhefer. Junior Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) led off the inning with a walk and moved to third after Kory Benbow (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) hit a two out single into right center field. Sophomore Nathan Koontz (Indianapolis, Ind./Brebeuf) drove in the Cardinals' run as he notched a single through the left side to plate Vitek.
After Louisville took a 7-1 lead, Ball State tallied a run in the top of the eighth inning. Vitek started things off as he worked his second walk of the contest with two outs. He came all the way home to score as senior Zach Dygert (Angola, Ind./Angola) doubled down the left field line to narrow the gap to 7-2.
Bowling (0-3) was charged with the loss as he allowed six runs, only one earned, in 3.0 innings as he struck out two and walked three batters. Junior left-hander Derek Grabner (Fort Wayne, Ind./Lincoln Trail) worked the final 5.0 innings and allowed two runs on six hits. Kiekhefer (2-1) turned in seven strong innings as he allowed just one run on six hits while striking out six batters in the victory for Louisville.
Game Two - Ball State 5, #7 Louisville 1
Ball State earned its second victory of the season against a nationally ranked opponent as it defeated No. 7 Louisville 5-1 in the series finale. Three Cardinal pitchers combined to hold Louisville to a season-low one run and only seven hits.
Right-handed reliever Perci Garner (Dover, Ohio/Dover) earned the victory in relief as he tossed 4.0 innings and only allowed one run. Garner struck out six batters, including all three in the seventh inning, while only allowing two hits to improve to 1-0 on the season. Vitek turned in a solid start as he worked 4.0 scoreless innings in the start and limited Louisville to three hits, while notching four strikeouts.
Louisville threatened in the bottom of the first inning against Vitek as it put runners on the corners after two singles. Vitek was able to work out of the early jam as he induced a ground ball double play off the bat of Wunderlich to end the inning.
Ball State opened the scoring in game two with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning against Louisville right-hander Tony Zych. The Cardinals did all of their damage with two outs as Benbow and sophomore Ian Nielsen (La Porte, Ind./La Porte) hit back-to-back singles down the right field line. Sophomore Tim Issler (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) drove in BSU's first run as he ripped a single up the middle for his first hit of the season. Sophomore Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) drove in Ball State's second run of the inning as he singled over the shortstop's head to plate Nielsen and give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
Ball State extended its lead to 3-0 in the top of the third inning as Vitek helped his own cause as he stretched a base hit into a double with one out. He moved to third base as Blake Beemer (Clayton, Ohio/Northmont) reach on a fielder's choice. The Cardinals attempted a double steal with two outs that saw Beemer worked the rundown long enough for Vitek to score prior to the third out.
BSU added another run in the top of the fifth inning to take a 4-0 lead. Vitek reached base on a fielder's choice with two outs and Dygert drove him home as he doubled over the right fielder's head. Louisville answered back as it scored its first run off of Garner. U of L took advantage of two Garner walks and got a run-scoring single from Ryan Wright to narrow the BSU lead to 4-1.
Ball State extended the lead back to four with a solo run in the top of the seventh inning against Louisville reliever Derek Self. Baumet led off the inning with his third single of the afternoon and moved to second as Dygert drew a two out walk. Beemer came through with a run-scoring single up the middle to score Baumet and put BSU in front 5-1.
Louisville made one final push in the bottom of the ninth inning for the game-tying run against right-hander Seth Hobbs (Marseilles, Ill./Seneca). Hobbs recorded the first two outs of the inning before J.J. Ethel and Kyle Grieshaber hit back-to-back singles. Adam Duvall ripped a line drive into the left center field gap that appeared headed for extra bases but sophomore Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) covered a lot of territory and made a running catch for the final out of the game.
Baumet paced the Cardinals' 12-hit attack as he notched three hits in the leadoff position. Beemer and Issler each posted two hits in the victory. Zych (1-1) was charged with the loss as he allowed four runs on nine hits in 5.0 innings of work.
Ball State returns to action Tuesday evening as it travels to face instate foe Notre Dame. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. in South Bend and will mark the 20th straight game away from home for the Cardinals to open the season.