BASEBALL: Cardinals respond with series finale win over Chippewas

Ball State gets offense from Issler, Franchetti in win

After watching his team drop both games in a doubleheader Saturday, coach Alex Marconi had to change things up.

Instead of wearing his pant legs down, Marconi pulled them up, revealing his bright Cardinal red socks.

The move paid off as Ball State (12-25, 8-6 MAC) dealt an 8-1 thumping to its Mid-American Conference West division rival Central Michigan (20-20, 9-6 MAC) in Sunday's series finale at Ball Diamond.

"It worked," Marconi said. "I got a bad pair of pants [and] pulled them up."

The Cardinals, led by fifth-year senior starting pitcher Morgan Coombs, turned in one of their best conference games of the season.

Coombs had arguably his best outing of the season, setting a career-high by tossing eight strong innings. Coombs limited Central Michigan to just five hits.

The right-hander retired 13 of the first 14 Chippewas he faced en route to his fourth win of the season.

"I had control and command of my pitches," Coombs said. "That always helps to get you deep in the game."

Coombs was extremely effective, throwing 97 total pitches. Twice, Coombs needed just nine pitches to record three outs.

Ball State knocked around the Central Michigan's pitchers for 16 hits, setting a new season-high.

"It shows our guys what they're capable of," Marconi said. "If they can do this, we have a chance to play with and beat anybody."

The bottom of the Cardinals' order had a combined 11 hits on the afternoon, and Marconi said he was more than pleased with the group.

"If the bottom half of the order has [that many] hits, you're usually going to win," he said.

Junior second baseman Tim Issler was one Cardinal who batted near the bottom of the lineup.

He finished the game going 5-for-5, with five singles and three runs scored.

"I was seeing the ball well," Issler said. "I've been working on shortening my swing up lately."

Issler wasn't the only Cardinal who had a career day at the plate.

With a runner on base and two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, sophomore catcher Kevin Franchetti hit a 2-run homer to left field. The round-tripper was a career-first for Franchetti.

"It was [exciting] for me personally," he said. "I was looking for a pitch to drive and was sitting fastball."

After circling the bases for the first time, Franchetti, who was all smiles, said it was a surreal moment.

"You get in the dugout and everyone is slapping your hand," he said. "It was a good relief. To put the team ahead, it felt really good."

Marconi said Sunday's win was huge for his club, especially heading into an off week before another conference series next weekend at Eastern Michigan.

When asked if his new fashion trend would continue, Marconi laughed.

"I might be doing this more often," he said.


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