By the time Ball State retired a Missouri batter in the bottom of the first inning Saturday, it was in a five-run hole and already into its bullpen. Things didn't get much better for the Cardinals the rest of the afternoon and they lost to the Tigers 15-5.
One week after the best start of his career, left-hander Nestor Bautista (0-2) was back to his wild side. The sophomore allowed five runs on one hit and three walks and failed to record an out before forcing coach Alex Marconi to pull him for a reliever.
Bautista could not have been more inconsistent to start this season. In his first start, Bautista gave up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings. In his second, Bautista threw seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits. Saturday was Bautista's worst outing of his career, edging a start at Purdue last year when he gave up four runs in 1/3 of an inning.
As Ball State tried to overcome the nightmarish start, things went from bad to worse. In the third inning, Missouri right fielder Blake Brown hit a three-run home run off Ross Overstreet to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead. Overstreet, who had already hit a batter, then threw behind Brannon Champagne and was ejected. Second baseman Mitch Widau also was ejected for arguing.
The third inning ended without further damage, but Ball State's offense was unable to keep the score close. Missouri left-hander Rob Zastryzny carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Brandon Estep, who replaced Widau, broke up the no-hit bid with a single. Cody Campbell followed with a pinch-hit triple to bring home Ball State's first runs of the day.
The Tigers scored five runs in the bottom of the inning to end any dreams of a Cardinals' comeback. A day after recording a season-high 13 hits, Ball State managed just five. Designated hitter Billy Wellman went 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the offense.
Ball State and Missouri will play the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday at 2 p.m. Right-hander T.J. Weir will start for the Cardinals.