BASEBALL: Ball State defeats NIU, clinches playoff berth
The Daily News
With a 3-2 win over Northern Illinois, the Ball State baseball team accomplished two things. The first, and most pressing for the team, was clinching a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The Cardinals knew the importance of getting at least one win in the three-game series prior to today’s first pitch. Locking up a spot in the postseason is as coach Rich Maloney said, a great moment for the team.
“First of all, it solidified the playoffs, so we’re in. Now they have an actual chance, if they’re able to win the next two, they could win the West, which would be an incredible story,” he said.
The Cardinals fought back from a rough start to the year, and now have a realistic shot at winning the MAC West regular season title.
Ball State trails Northern Illinois by just one game, and with two games remaining in the series, things look good for the Cardinals.
They played good baseball across the board today. Scott Baker stayed hot in the circle, the defense fielded well, and several players were successful at the plate.
“It was a great team effort,” Maloney said. “A lot of different guys contributed, we played really good defense, and Baker pitched outstanding.”
Coming into the game, Baker and the Huskies’ Eli Anderson were leading candidates for MAC Pitcher of the Year honors.
Baker certainly lived up to his reputation as he pitched the complete, nine-inning game. Baker allowed the Huskies just five hits and two runs on the day.
The sophomore pitcher picked up his 11th win on the mound. He entered today’s game ranked sixth nationally in pitching victories.
Though the Cardinals still need two-straight victories to claim the 2013 MAC West title, they are one step closer with today’s win.
Maloney summed up what the victory meant to his team in one sentence.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” he said.
The Cardinals will return to the Ball State Baseball Complex for a Friday game scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.