BASEBALL: Ball State falls after late Butler rally
Cardinals blow early lead as Bulldogs score four in eight to win
Despite its best offensive inning of the season, Ball State's bullpen imploded, allowing Butler to rally back and capture an 8-6 win at Victory Field Tuesday.
"Any loss is never the outcome you want," coach Alex Marconi said following the game.
Butler held a 1-0 lead before Ball State's explosive inning, which had 10 Cardinals' at-bats. After three consecutive singles by sophomore Mitch Overley, junior Wes Winkle and senior Mitch Widau, T.J. Weir lined an RBI double down the left field line, giving the visitors a 3-1 lead. When the Bulldogs recorded the final out of the inning, the Cardinals held a 6-1 advantage.
But that was it offensively for the Cardinals (7-22), who failed to add to their lead and the Bulldogs made them pay.
After issuing his fifth walk of the game, freshman starter Scott Baker surrendered a single off the bat of Griffin Richeson. With runners on first and second, Baker walked another man, loading the bases for Butler. Widau followed by botching a groundball at second, and the Bulldogs trailed by three.
Baker, who lasted five innings, walked seven and struck out four. Marconi said Baker was fortunate to have not gotten into trouble.
"[He] got very lucky today," Marconi said. "Walked seven in five innings and was very lucky he didn't have a tougher outing than he did."
Heading into the bottom of the eighth ahead by two runs, Ball State's bullpen failed to hold the lead.
The combination of red-shirt junior Ross Overstreet and sophomore Matt Johnsen allowed Butler to climb back, eventually taking an 8-6 lead. The inning was capped off by a two-run home run from designated hitter Pat Gelwicks.
"We got behind in the count and they can swing the bats a little bit," Marconi said. "They got some veteran guys in the lineup that can hurt you and they did. Their veteran hitters that have a little bit of pop, those are the guys that hurt us."
The Cardinals had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead in the ninth. The bases were loaded with one out for Weir, but he took a called third strike. Sophomore first baseman Cody Campbell was next up, but grounded out to third base, ending the game and causing more frustration for Ball State.
"It's disappointing," Marconi said. "It's disappointing that we have done that a number of times this year with a chance to win or a tie a game in the ninth inning, and our hitters have taken strike three. It is absolutely beside me that that could ever happen. We're just not taking advantage of our situations."
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