BASEBALL: Late push earns Ball State win over host UAB in series opener
Cardinals score four runs in ninth inning to take victory
Scoring five runs in the final two innings, Ball State University spoiled the University of Alabama at Birmingham's home opener with a 9-5 win Friday night.
The Cardinals trailed 5-4 headed to the eighth inning at Young Memorial Field, but left fielder Kory Benbow tied the game with a solo home run. They exploded for four runs in the ninth inning, with first baseman Ian Nielsen delivering a two-run double that gave Ball State (2-2) the lead.
Reliever Seth Hobbs (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless inning for the victory, and Morgan Coombs picked up the save. Blake Huddleston (0-1) gave up all four runs in the ninth and was the losing pitcher.
The Blazers (0-2) have lost two games in a row in the ninth inning. Tuesday, UAB opened its season with a loss at Mississippi State University on a walk-off home run.
Second baseman Kolbrin Vitek quickly put the Cardinals in the lead with a two-out home run in the first inning. But starting pitcher Brad Piatt was unable to hold the lead in the bottom of the first as designated hitter John Frost drove in two runs with a double.
Both teams answered each other throughout the game. Ball State tied the game four different times before the ninth inning, and the largest lead until Nielsen's double was just one run.
Piatt gave up four runs, three earned, in his 3 2/3 innings. After sophomore Perci Garner replaced the senior, the Cardinals surrendered only one run on two hits.
Garner threw 3 1/3 innings and struck out six.
Ball State overcame its first two errors of the season. After playing error free last weekend at the University of Arkansas, shortstop T.J. Baumet committed the first error of the season in the second inning. Piatt was able to work around that, but when third baseman Stephen Claypool didn't field a groundball cleanly in the fourth inning, UAB was able to capitalize.
Claypool made up for his first collegiate error with his first collegiate RBI. Five different Cardinals drove in runs, led by Nielsen's two. Vitek and Nielsen each went 3-for-5 for Ball State.
The teams will continue their series today with a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.