BASEBALL: Nielsen slugs 3 homers in win over Indiana Tech
Cardinals scored four runs in first inning to jump start victory
Ball State University slugged away any lingering bad feelings from its back-to-back losses with a 15-2 victory Wednesday against Indiana Tech.
First baseman Ian Nielsen led the Cardinals (14-18) with his second big game in five days, going 4-for-5 with three prodigious home runs and seven RBIs. The sophomore's slugfest came on the heels of his two-home run, eight-RBI performance Saturday at Bowling Green State University.
"It was just a weird day," Nielsen said. "I went 0-for-4 yesterday [at Purdue] and didn't really swing well. I'm just happy I could help out the team."
Nielsen is the first Cardinal to hit three home runs in a game since shortstop T.J. Baumet did it against Western Michigan University last April.
Ball State jumped on NAIA member Indiana Tech (17-18) early, scoring four runs in the first inning. The first five runners reached base, and all but Baumet, who was picked off, scored. Second baseman Kolbrin Vitek had an RBI single and Nielsen hit his first home run, a three-run shot to center field.
"The first one cleared the scoreboard, so that was pretty," coach Greg Beals said. "All three of them were pretty and all three of them were no-doubt home runs. I think the first one might have been the bomb of them all though."
The Cardinals stretched their lead to 6-1 wit runs in the second and third innings, but the Warriors hung in the game until the fifth. Ball State added four runs with a pair of home runs.
Nielsen hit his second three-run blast of the game and right fielder Ryan Chenoweth added an opposite field solo home run.
"[Chenoweth] has long leverage and when he lets the bat kick at the right time he's got power to all fields," Beals said. "He showed that today and he's very capable of doing that."
Left fielder Blake Beemer and Baumet each had three hits for the Cardinals. Beemer had two triples, the first of his career. He became the first Cardinal with two triples in a game since Jeremy Hazelbaker did it last May 15 against the University of Toledo.
Starting pitcher Scott Brothers (2-1) picked up the victory despite not throwing five innings because he was on predetermined innings count. The right-hander allowed one run in four innings.
Reliever Michael Sandman allowed the only other Indiana Tech run.
Ball State has played one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country, but Beals said sometimes it needs a break from playing conference opponents and ranked teams.
"It was a good day at the plate," Beals said. "Every now and then you need a feel-good day."
Indiana Tech did their best to show Ball State plenty of different looks on the mound. It used eight different pitchers, including a left-hander that topped out at 69 mph.
"We've got to go up there looking for what the new pitcher has and adjusting to what they're bringing to the plate," Nielsen said. "It is definitely different than facing a guy you've seen once or twice already."
Nielsen said in games like Wednesday's, it is important to work on improving the basics.
"It's just still trying to think about your fundamentals," he said. "That's what you've got to focus on, it doesn't matter who [you're playing]."