Slow start too much to overcome for Ball State baseball in MAC Tournament loss to Miami
From the start of Thursday's Mid-American Conference Tournament game between Ball State baseball and Miami (Ohio), it had the look of a long day in the making for Ball State.
Miami (34-18) loaded the bases in each of the first three innings, scoring seven runs during that stretch in what ended up an 8-1 win for the Redhawks.
"It was a lot of infield hits, but quite honestly, we walked too many guys," head coach Rich Maloney said. "So, when you put the combination of walks and those dinks, it was too much to overcome."
In just 2.2 innings pitched between them, Ball State (32-25) pitchers Drey Jameson and Nick Floyd combined to walk eight batters.
As the MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year, Jameson's performance Friday was far from expected.
"We have a lot of confidence in Drey; he's an outstanding pitcher," Maloney said. "But he has had games where he's walked too many guys. ... It's really been our Achilles heel this year as a team."
It all started when Miami's Cristian Tejada singled through the infield gap between the shortstop and third baseman, and a failed pickoff attempt by Jameson allowed him to advance to second to get into scoring position. Two more infield singles followed, allowing Tejada to score the game's first run.
With the bases loaded, a pitch got away from Jameson and hit Kyle Winkler to drive in the inning's second run. Jameson was able to recover and strike out the next two batters he faced to stop the bleeding and force Miami to finish the inning with three runners left on base.
After Ball State's side of the inning was retired with just one hit, Miami went right back to work.
Jameson walked Adrian Texidor and gave up an RBI double to Tejada that stretched the lead to 3-0. A walk then loaded the bases and another allowed Tejada to score his second of three runs on the evening. That spelled the end of Jameson's day as he finished with four earned runs allowed.
"We were hoping the dominant Drey was going to be there," Maloney said. "His [pitching] was good; it just wasn't in the zone enough."
Floyd replaced Jameson and was able to get out of the inning with a fielder's choice with the bases loaded, causing Miami to strand three runners for the second time in as many innings.
Ball State went down in order in the top of the third inning with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts.
Miami then proceeded to load the bases yet again. Floyd couldn't get out of the jam, walking in a run. An RBI single drove in another, and an error at third base made matters worse for Ball State, allowing another run to score for a 7-0 Miami lead.
Neither side scored another run until the bottom of the fifth inning. With two on and two out, an RBI single to shortstop drove in Miami's final run of the day as Ball State was unable to force the third out at first base with Will Vogelgesang beating the throw.
Colin Brockhouse was able to prevent a shutout with his 11th home run of the year via a leadoff solo shot to left field in the top of the ninth inning, but Jeff Riedel struck out swinging to end the game.
Overall, Miami only registered one more hit than Ball State, ending with a 10-9 advantage, but Ball State was unable to overcome the nine walks it allowed and couldn't string hits together consecutively to bring runs across the plate.
With Ball State playing the winner of Friday's game between Central Michigan and Toledo, Maloney is confident his team will bounce back like it has all year.
"They've been very resilient all year, and that's what I told them after the game," Maloney said. "The word for this team has been resiliency without question, and I would expect that they're going to fight back and find a way [Friday]. That's the character of the team."