Teddy Cahill

A game into the crucial three-game Mid-American Conference West Division series, Central Michigan University remains in first place.

Central Michigan defeated Ball State University 4-3 in Mount Pleasant, Mich., Friday. Jesse Hernandez (6-1) threw a complete game for the victory. Perci Garner (5-1) allowed four runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings for his first loss this year.

The Cardinals (17-21, 9-4) took a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Shortstop T.J. Baumet led the game off with a hit and came around to score on second baseman Kolbrin Vitek's RBI single. Catcher Zach Dygert brought Vitek home with a groundout.

But the Chippewas (22-13, 11-2) got a run back in the bottom of the inning without getting a hit off Garner. Leadoff hitter Billy Anderson drew a walk and advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt from Garner. The center fielder stole third base and came home on a sacrifice fly.

Vitek again drove in Baumet in the third inning, but Central Michigan added two runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at three.

Central Michigan scratched the winning run out in the sixth inning with a walk, a hit and a fielder's choice.

Hernandez made sure the Cardinals wouldn't be able to respond, allowing only center fielder Cody Elliott to reach base in the final three innings. Elliott was thrown out at attempting to steal second base in the eighth inning, allowing the right-hander to face the minimum to finish the game.

The loss drops Ball State two games behind Central Michigan in the MAC West. The two teams will complete their series with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. The series finale was moved up a day because of impending weather.