BASEBALL: Ball State comes up short at Ohio State
Cardinals lose sixth midweek road game of the year
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Throughout the cold, damp night, Ball State University played catch up at Ohio State University.
After giving up a run in each of the first three innings, the Cardinals (24-24) were unable to ever get ahead and lost 8-4 Wednesday night.
Though the Buckeyes (26-19) pulled away at the end, the Cardinals had multiple chances to take the lead.
"We were right in that game," coach Greg Beals said. "We were one play, one hit away more than once."
Ball State's best chance to take the lead came in the eighth when they had the bases loaded with one out and two runs home in the inning. Reliever Eric Best walked in a run to cut the Ohio State lead to 5-4, but was able to recover. The senior forced Cody Elliott to pop up and Ryan Chenoweth grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
Taking advantage of escaping a potentially game-altering jam, the Buckeyes tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the inning when Chenoweth dropped a fly ball in left field that would have ended the inning.
Chenoweth had pinch hit for Kirby Campbell in the seventh inning and has not played much left field this year. Beals made it clear that wasn't an excuse for misplaying the ball.
"It's a fly ball," he said. "High school kids can run over and catch it. It's a catchable ball and it needs to be caught regardless of what position you're playing."
Campbell and Chenoweth are filling in for Kory Benbow, who was declared academically ineligible when grades were released by Ball State on Tuesday. The pair combined to go 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Brad Piatt started the game on the mound for Ball State, allowing three runs in three innings. Beals said the pitching staff did everything it needed to give the Cardinals a chance Wednesday.
"I didn't think Brad was all that bad," he said. "We were right in that game."
Ball State has won just one midweek game on the road, defeating UNC-Wilmington during Spring Break. Ball State is 1-6 in midweek road games this year, including its first loss to Indiana University since 1998.
Zach Dygert said the Cardinals hadn't noticed the problems, but the captain thinks it might be a focus problem.
"You get so ingrained in the conference and the standings and what you've got coming up in the weekend," he said. "You tend to lose a little bit of focus and we need to do a better job gaining that focus. They are games you'd really like to win."
But even with their problems Wednesday, Ball State had a chance to beat Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, for the second consecutive year.
Dygert, who hit his 10th home run of the season Wednesday, said the Cardinals just came up one play short of a victory.
"We had opportunities to get big hits, big plays, but it didn't work out for us," he said. "Sometimes that's the way baseball goes."