For five innings Wednesday afternoon, Ball State played a close game with No. 16 Purdue. The Cardinals trailed the Boilermakers by one run going into the sixth inning.
Seventeen batters later, Purdue had 12 runs home and showed all 291 fans at Ball Diamond why its offense is one of the best in the country. The Boilermakers had six extra base hits in the inning and pulled out to a 15-2 lead that would prove to be the winning margin.
The 13-run loss was Ball State's second worst of the season and extended its losing streak to three games. The loss came against one of, if not the, best team Ball State has played this season. Not only is Purdue the highest ranked team on Ball State's schedule, its No. 16 RPI ranking, according to Warren Nolan, is also the best.
"I'd say they're one of the top teams we've faced," outfielder Sean Godfrey said.
The game began to unravel for Ball State with right-hander Jacob Brewer on the mound. Brewer started the game and held Purdue to one run for four innings. But in the fifth inning, when facing the Boilermakers for the third time Wednesday, he began to struggle. With the help of two errors, Purdue scored two runs to take a 3-2 lead.
Coach Alex Marconi said Brewer's struggles were more a result of him being unable to pitch around the errors than fatigue.
"He pitched well," Marconi said. "He needs to control himself. He's gotten much better, but he still gets in his own way."
In the sixth inning, Brewer's problems continued. He gave up back-to-back doubles to start the inning and Marconi brought in Tyler Jordan in relief.
Jordan, however, pitched no better. He allowed the runner he inherited from Brewer to score and gave up 10 runs of his own on nine hits and two walks. With Ball State playing its 15th game in 20 days and Marconi trying to give the Cardinals some rest before a weekend Mid-American Conference series at Ohio, Jordan took one for the team. He finally got through the sixth and returned for two more innings, working a career-high three innings.
Godfrey said Brewer pitched as well as he had all season against a good offense.
"Brewer came out and he did a good job," Godfrey said. "He really gave us a chance for the first few innings. We were definitely in the game until that point."
The relievers weren't the only Cardinals getting a day off. Shortstop T.J. Weir didn't play for the first time this season. Joining him in the dugout were first baseman Cody Campbell, second baseman Mitch Widau and center fielder Wes Winkle.
"Our schedule is tough on us," Marconi said. "We've got some guys that have been nursing some minor injuries for a while and we're just trying to get off of them and give them rest when we can."
Without its regulars on the field, Ball State made five errors. Marconi said it wasn't any easier to see five errors in the box score, especially when little-used utility infielder Kevin Schlotter played a clean game at second base and was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a run.
"It shouldn't happen; it doesn't matter if you haven't played all year," Marconi said. "Kevin Schlotter doesn't get to play very often, and he goes out there and makes plays; he gets a couple hits because he's ready to play."