BASEBALL: Cardinals win big, set eyes on MAC West title
The Daily News
Coach Rich Maloney said his team put on a “hitting display,” in Friday’s game, adding that they were simply “on fire.”
The Ball State baseball team defeated Northern Illinois 14-3 in game two of a crucial three-game series. The Cardinals won the series’ first game 3-2, clinching a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in the process.
Friday’s victory ensured that the MAC West regular-season title would remain within reach. With the win, the Cardinals improve to 28-22 overall and 15-11 in MAC play. The division-leading Huskies fell to 21-31 overall and 15-11 in the MAC.
The impact on Ball State’s confidence and NIU’s lack thereof moving forward, could be even more significant than the win itself.
T.J. Weir went two-for-four at the plate as he hit two home runs on the day. He will receive time as a relief pitcher in Saturday’s season finale.
Maloney is hopeful that Weir’s strong performance will carry over to the defensive side of things as he works in the circle.
The first inning alone would have likely been enough to put the game away. Ball State jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind an offensive explosion.
Sean Godfrey drilled a double to notch two RBIs for the games’ first runs. Billy Wellman, Sam Tidaback and Elbert Devarie all added RBIs in the ensuing at-bats.
Wes Winkle drove in a run later in the inning, kicking off a solid individual performance. His level of play has improved greatly over the span of the regular season. Early in the year Winkle struggled to maintain a .100 batting average, but he is now holding strong at .256.
The Muncie native went two-for-four at the plate with two RBIs on the day. He played solid defense as well, something that the entire team mirrored.
Good pitching, diving catches in the outfield and baseman converting double plays. It was all there today. And few took notice more than those in the NIU dugout.
The Huskies voiced frustration throughout the game. Even after rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh inning, the team was visibly upset.
Whether or not the Huskies’ disappointment with today’s result will play into the series finale on Saturday is yet to be seen. One thing is certain though.
The Cardinals have one game left to cap off an impressive late-season run at the MAC West.
“We got it down to one game, and we’ve got a chance,” Maloney said.
The regular season finale will also serve as the team’s senior day. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.