BASEBALL: Morgan Coombs pitches Ball State past Miami
Fifth-year senior holds RedHawks to three runs on six hits
OXFORD, Ohio — After scoring eight runs for the first time in nearly a month Saturday, Ball State's offense continued to strive Sunday.
Ball State claimed a series finale 6-3 win over Mid-American Conference foe Miami, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 series victory over the weekend.
Freshman first baseman Kenny Mahala sparked a two-run second inning for Ball State with a leadoff single to right field.
Sophomores Blake Beemer and Stephen Claypool followed with consecutive singles, giving Ball State a 1-0 lead.
Left fielder Kirby Campbell followed with an RBI sacrifice bunt, doubling the Ball State lead to 2-0.
The bats continued to rattle in the third inning for the Cardinals.
Junior second baseman Mitch Widau led off the inning with a single to right before redshirt freshman designated hitter Billy Wellman crushed a 2-1 pitch over the center field wall for a two-run home run, his second of the season, to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.
After tossing six shutout innings last Sunday versus Ohio, fifth-year senior Morgan Coombs picked up right where he left off.
The 6-foot-1 sidearm pitcher retired 10 of the first 12 RedHawks he faced, collecting back-to-back strikeouts in the first inning.
Coombs received some help defensively in the bottom of the sixth inning when sophomore designated hitter Kevin Bower lined a sharp ground ball to first base. It ricocheted off the bag and into the glove of first baseman Wellman, who tossed to Coombs for the out to end the inning.
The Cardinals held a 5-1 lead in the seventh before senior shortstop T.J. Baumet drove a 2-0 pitch over the scoreboard in left field for his second homer of the season.
"I've been struggling lately, so I've been working on getting a good pitch to hit, and he threw me a good one and I put a good swing on it," Baumet said.
Coombs pitched his way in and out of trouble in the sixth inning after he walked senior catcher Adam Weisenburger, and then hit senior shortstop Ryan Kaup, putting runners on first and second with one out.
The veteran pitcher induced consecutive fly outs from the next two RedHawks to end the threat.
"You always [have] to bare down and try to pick yourself up when you can," Coombs said. "I put our team in a jam and I tried to do my best to get out of it any way I could."
Coombs surrendered a home run off the bat of first baseman Kyle Weldon and a double by Weisenburger before giving way to his bullpen, which closed the door on the RedHawks.
"[I] felt good, felt confident," Coombs said. "I know the guys behind me are always going to make plays and the guys in the bullpen are always going to pick me up. [That makes it] easy to go out [there] with confidence."
Coach Alex Marconi said his veteran right-hander did what he does best.
"That's why we like him [starting] on Sundays, because he competes," Marconi said. "He doesn't have the best stuff of the pitchers [on the team], but he competes. He's got different speeds and he throws strikes. When you do that and do it consistently, you're going to be successful."
Coombs is now 2-3 in seven appearances this season.
The win assured Ball State its first successful road trip, something Marconi said is vital for his younger players.
"That's why it's so big for these young guys, to get the taste of beating somebody on their own field," he said. "I told the guys winning that first series at home was good, [but] coming here and taking two out of three was great in my opinion.
"It just can't get any better than that."