BASEBALL: Ball State collapses in ninth inning
One out away from a Cardinals' victory, the Boilermakers storm back to take 8-5 win
Ball State (7-23) was one out away from a victory over its in-state rival Purdue until the unimaginable happened.
Coach Alex Marconi said he had a good feeling in his stomach when the game reached the top of the ninth inning. His team held a 5-4 lead and junior Cody Elliott, one of his hardest throwing pitchers, was on the mound.
After hitting the first batter he faced, Elliott recorded two quick outs. Then he allowed a single and hit his second man of the inning to load the bases.
Things spiraled downhill from there as Purdue (21-11) struck for four runs en route to an 8-5 win.
"I basically just gave that game up for us," Elliott said. "My control was off [and] just couldn't find the zone."
The Cardinals executed the fundamentals of the game in all but one inning, which ended up being the most important one.
Marconi said if his team found the strike zone, Purdue's hitters would've gotten themselves out with the wind blowing in.
"We didn't throw strikes in the ninth inning," Marconi said. "We had a chance to make a play [and] we just couldn't find [the ball]. Good teams find those balls and we didn't."
What would've been a huge upset turned out to be another frustrating outcome for the Cardinals, adding to the list of woes they have encountered this season.
"We've lost other times where it's not as hard to swallow, but this one, we had this game in our back pocket and decided to give it back to them," Marconi said.
Standing tall in the shadow of the disheartening loss was freshman Kenny Mahala, who had another productive outing at the plate.
The first baseman was 3-for-4, with three RBIs, including a three-run double to center field to pull his team within a run.
With its second game in as many days this afternoon versus the Indiana Tech Warriors, Ball State will need to have a short memory.
"As soon as we leave the ballpark we've got to start focusing on [Indiana Tech]," Marconi said. "That's the luxury of playing baseball."