BASEBALL: Cardinals win with walk-off hit
Ball State gets win with Baumet's RBI in ninth
After eight and a half innings of scoreless baseball and clusters of squandered opportunities, Ball State finally broke through in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Senior shortstop T.J. Baumet drove an 0-2 fastball to right-center field to give Ball State the walk-off win.
The win not only ended its six-game losing streak, but also gave Ball State (3-17, 1-0) its first Mid-American Conference win of the season.
"It's a really big win for the guys," coach Alex Marconi said. "We finally got a big hit."
Junior right-hander Cal Bowling tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout versus the Bobcats.
"I honestly never thought I'd throw in the ninth inning in a game, and then it happened," Bowling said.
It took Bowling 40 pitches to get through the first two innings.
Bowling began the game by serving up a leadoff double to center fielder Ethan Newton. Bowling then hit second baseman Bryan Barnes and walked the three-hole hitter, Jensen Painter to load the bases for the Bobcats.
Starting pitcher and designated hitter Seth Streich provided the only offensive production of the game when he hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Newton from third base.
After the first two innings, assistant coach Jeremy Plexico approached Bowling in the dugout.
"Coach [Plexico] was just talking to me between innings and told me that my off speed [pitch] was really good and they weren't going to be able to hit it if I could get my fastball across [the plate]," Bowling said. "They were just able to sit on my fastball until I got that going and then it was smooth sailing."
At one point Bowling had retired 12 straight Ohio hitters en route to his second victory of the season.
Marconi was more than thrilled with his junior right-hander.
"That's the mark of a true competitor and the mark of somebody who has confidence and somebody who doesn't get caught up in starting off bad," Marconi said. "When you can go up there and flip first pitch changeups in there and get a swing and a weak ground ball, then you're going to be pretty efficient."
The Cardinals found themselves with an opportunity to score in the bottom of the second inning but stranded the bases loaded after Baumet lined out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Marconi said Streich's performance caught him off guard from the initial scouting report.
"He did a good job of throwing strikes," Marconi said. "That was something we weren't looking for from him was throwing that many strikes. He's walked a good amount of guys, so we were expecting him to be a little more wild."
The Cardinals finally broke through in their last at-bat.
Redshirt freshman designated hitter Billy Wellman hit a leadoff double to left field and scored on sophomore Blake Beemer's RBI double to tie the game at 1-1.
Junior infielder Tim Issler executed a sacrifice bunt, advancing Beemer to third base with just one out.
Streich was lifted from the game for freshman reliever Tyler Stage, who intentionally walked pinch-hitter Cody Campbell and T.J. Weir to load the bases.
The next batter, Kirby Campbell, struck out looking.
That brought in Baumet, who was 0-for-4 at that point in the game.
After falling behind in the count 0-2, Baumet came through with the game-winning hit.
"He got two strikes on me with the first two pitches," Baumet said. "I was just trying to protect and he left a ball too close to the plate and I was just trying to put it in play."
The ball was lined into right for the game-winning hit, giving the Cardinals their first win in what has been labeled as ‘the new season.'
"That's what we needed," Bowling said. "We said we were 0-0 in the MAC and to start off 1-0 has guys believing it's a new season."