BASEBALL: Comeback falls short for Ball State
Cardinals lose third straight game
With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the ninth inning Wednesday, Tennessee clung to a two-run lead as coach Dave Serrano went to the mound to talk to closer Nick Williams. Whatever Serrano told Williams worked.
After allowing four straight hits to start the ninth, Williams struck out pinch hitter Kevin Schlotter and Billy Wellman. Then he got Kirby Campbell to ground out to second baseman Will Maddox for the third out in the inning, giving Tennessee a 9-7 victory. The loss was Ball State's third straight since beating Missouri last Friday.
The Cardinals (2-7) took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Cody Campbell's three-run home run off starter Carter Watson.
But Ball State's lead wouldn't last long. Left-hander Nestor Bautista (0-3) had another rough start, giving up six runs in 2 1/3 innings. The Volunteers scored two in the first and tied the game in the second before chasing Bautista in the third inning.
Bautista has now given up 11 runs in his last two starts, which came in a span of just five days. He gave up five runs at Missouri Saturday without recording an out and saw his ERA climb to 14.34 Wednesday.
After Tennessee took a 7-3 lead in the third inning, Ball State responded with three runs of its own in the top of the fourth, highlighted by an RBI-triple from Elbert Devarie. But the Cardinals were never able to tie the game. Miles Moeller surrendered a two-run home run to designated hitter Drew Steckenrider in the sixth, giving the Volunteers all the insurance they needed. Steckenrider then took to the mound and shut the Cardinals down for two innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced.
While Ball State set a new season high for runs scored, it could have caused more damage at the plate. It left nine runners on base and scored just one run after loading the bases with no outs in the ninth.
Blake Beemer and Cody Campbell each had three hits for the Cardinals. Beemer reached base in all five of his plate appearances Wednesday, going 3-for-3 with two walks and a stolen base. Campbell went 3-for-5 and hit Ball State's second home run all season.