BASEBALL: Ball State falls to Indiana State in home-opener
Sycamores jump on Cardinals early, get first win at Ball Diamond since 1995
Nestor Bautista cruised through the first inning, inducing consecutive fly outs from the first two Indiana State batters, and then he struck out the third batter on four pitches.
But the Ball State sophomore left-hander collapsed from then on and for the first time since 1995, Indiana State won at Ball Diamond, 14-3.
"Bad day," coach Alex Marconi said, following the game. "They looked like they'd never been coached before. All the things that we struggled with are things that we practice every single day."
Bautista buckled the knees of the Sycamores' hitters by swooping his curveball both inside and outside of the plate. But he couldn't get a handle on his fastball, and the Sycamores made him pay by tagging him for seven runs.
Marconi had hoped for a better start from his young lefty, but the Sycamores' took advantage of every mistake Bautista made. Despite Bautista's lack of command, Marconi said it was a very inconsistent outing.
"It's kind of the same thing he's been battling all year," Marconi said. "One good inning, a bad inning, a bad inning and maybe another good inning and unfortunately, he was up at 70 pitches already after three innings.
"When that's the case, you don't have the ability to pitch deep into a game to progress [or] improve. When you're consistently going two, three, four innings in a game, you're stifling your growth as a baseball player."
Bautista appeared to be rattled after yielding three runs in the third inning off of four hits. After allowing a leadoff double, Bautista walked a man and gave up a single and another double to give the Sycamores a 5-0 lead.
Marconi said he had no idea whether Bautista's confidence factored into the poor performance.
"Him and coach [Jeremy Plexico] work in the bullpen all the time," Marconi said. "They work on things and they don't get transferred out to the mound. That's kind of how a lot of young baseball players are, whether it's at Ball State or South Carolina. Young baseball players have a tendency to not transfer their bullpen work into the game. It takes time after time after time."
One bright spot for the Cardinals (4-16) was junior center fielder Wes Winkle, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games after lining a leadoff single to left-center field in the first inning. Winkle added a pair of singles in the third and fourth inning, going 3-for-4 with an RBI on the day.
But his streak has little meaning if the Cardinals don't win, which is what he wants more than anything at this point.
"It is a good feeling doing that, but I'd rather trade this 10-game hitting streak for a 10-game winning streak," Winkle said. "I'd trade that in a heartbeat. I'd rather us come out here and win than me go [3-for-4]. Everybody on this team just wants to win. It hasn't been happening lately. Right now, it's hard and stressful for everybody."
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