COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ball State baseball team pounded out 12 extra-base hits Wednesday evening as the Cardinals stunned No. 23 Ohio State 20-8 at Bill Davis Stadium. The Cardinals rallied from an early five-run deficit before outscoring the Buckeyes 20-3 over the final four innings to notch their first victory over a nationally ranked team since the 2006 season when Ball State defeated No. 8 Kentucky in the NCAA Regional.
“Our bats caught fire there when we got into their bullpen,” head coach Greg Beals said. “We scored 20 runs in four innings and that is quite an offensive explosion. It gave us a lot of confidence and we also had good pitching and played solid defense. It was just a good all-around game for us today.”
The Cardinals’ 20-run output is their largest offensive output of the season and the most since Ball State scored 24 runs against IPFW last season (April 8, 2008). Ball State became the first team to score 20 runs against Ohio State since the 2002 season when New Mexico scored 22 runs against the Buckeyes. The Cardinals’ 12 extra-base hits are a season-high as they tallied eight doubles, three home runs and one triple.
Junior catcher Zach Dygert (Angola, Ind./Angola) and sophomore third baseman Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) paced the attack as the Cardinals’ three and four-hole hitters combined for six hits and 12 RBI. Dygert finished the night with two home runs and a double while Vitek tallied two doubles and a home run.
Ohio State struck first against freshman right-hander Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown). Zach Hurley led off the game with a single to center field and moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt. The Buckeyes plated Hurley as Michael Stephens singled to left field to put OSU ahead 1-0. After a single put runners on the corners, Bowling was able to work out of the inning as he induced a ground ball double play to end the threat.
Ohio State threatened in the bottom of the second inning but junior center fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (Selma, Ind./Wapahani) saved a run for the Cardinals. OSU right fielder Michael Arp ripped a long fly ball to straight away center field but Hazelbaker climbed the outfield wall to rob a home run from Arp for the second out of the inning.
The Buckeyes extended their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning as Matt Streng led off with a single. Bowling was able to record two quick outs before Stephens sent a 2-1 pitch over the left center field wall for his eighth home run of the year. Ohio State added its fourth run of the inning on a run-scoring double by Justin Miller before being thrown out at third to end the inning.
After Ohio State added a run in the fifth inning, the Cardinals broke through in the top of the sixth inning as they pulled within one run at 5-4. Freshman left fielder Cody Elliott (Florence, Ky./Beechwood) led off the inning with a double to right center field. After a walk to Hazelbaker put two aboard, Elliot advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an OSU throwing error as Hazelbaker stole second base.
Senior second baseman Nate Fields (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) reached base on a fielding error by Ohio State to put runners on the corners. Dygert ripped a 1-0 pitch from reliever Theron Minium high over the center field wall for his fifth home run of the season to pull the Cardinals within on run.
Ohio State picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning against left-hander Tom Mueller (Westfield, Ind./Westfield) as Ryan Dew led off the inning with a line drive home run over the right field wall.
Ball State took its first lead of the night in the top of the seventh inning against the Ohio State bullpen as it plated five runs to take a 9-6 lead. Sophomore shortstop T.J. Baumet (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) led off the inning with a walk and Elliott reached base on a fielding error to lead off the inning.
Hazelbaker tied the game as he ripped a run-scoring single to left field to plate Baumet. After Fields was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Vitek ripped a two-run double to left center field to give the Cardinals their first lead of the night. Ohio State was able to get the second out of the inning before freshman first baseman Ian Nielsen (La Porte, Ind./La Porte) doubled in two more runs to put BSU ahead 9-6.
The Cardinals broke the game open in the top of the eighth inning as Baumet was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After an out, Hazelbaker doubled off of the right field wall to put two in scoring position. Fields worked a four pitch walk to load the bases with one out to set the stage for Vitek who ripped the first pitch his saw over the center field wall for a grand slam. The home run was his team-leading eighth of the season and put the Cardinals ahead 13-6.
Ohio State tallied two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning but the Cardinals erased any doubt in the top of the ninth inning as they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs to take a 20-8 lead. Junior right fielder Ryan Chenoweth (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) led off the inning with a double and came home to score as Elliott tripled to left center field.
Hazelbaker walked and Fields lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Elliott. After a walk to Vitek put two aboard, Dygert crushed his second home run of the night over the left field wall for his sixth of the season. Nielsen and junior Kory Benbow (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) kept the inning going with back-to-back singles and Chenoweth capped the inning with a two-run double off of the center field wall to give the Cardinals a 12-run lead.
Mueller (1-2) picked up the victory in relief as he was one of eight Cardinals pitchers to see action. The Cardinals’ bullpen worked 6.0 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits as they held the Buckeyes bats at bay. Ohio State sent seven pitchers to the hill in the loss with Jared Strayer (0-1) picking up the loss as he allowed four runs on four hits and did not get an out.
The Cardinals will return to action this weekend at Ball Diamond as they host Mid-American Conference rival Western Michigan in a three-game series. First pitch Friday afternoon will be at 3 p.m.