It may have been Ball State's third game in 48 hours, but it was a career day for sophomore Billy Wellman and true freshman Brandon Estep, who headed the Cardinals to an 11-7 triumph over NAIA member Northwestern Ohio on Tuesday.
Wellman, who had made just seven starts prior to starting at first base against the Racers, lined a two-run double to right field in the bottom of the first inning to extend the Cardinals' lead to 3-1 early in the game.
Wellman wasn't finished at the plate. After Racers' second baseman Fabian Placencia misjudged a popup, letting the ball drop right in front of him, Cardinals' right fielder Sean Godfrey singled on an infield bunt.
With two on and two out, Wellman launched a three-run home run to left-center field. The home run was the third of Wellman's career and first since March 9, 2011.
Wellman, who finished the day going 2-for-4 with a career-high five RBI, said he never saw anything other than a fastball.
"He was leaving 'em up and I was just seeing them," Wellman said. "It wasn't that fast. [I] just sat back, let them get it on me and just hit it where it was thrown. All day I felt like I was seeing the ball real well. It was just coming in belt high and [I] took a hack at it.
"I don't have too many at-bats and too many games, I feel like today was definitely one of my better games. It came at a good time."
But the best pitch Wellman saw happened to be during a rather embarrassing moment.
"The fattest pitch I saw all day was the curveball I struck out on in my last at-bat," Wellman said, laughing. "I saw it spinning and I said, 'ah, that's it.' Then I swung, got a little antsy and swung right threw it."
Wellman's homer gave the Cardinals a four-run cushion to work with, but the Racers rallied back with a trio of runs in the top of the seventh.
After the Cardinals committed a pair of errors, which resulted in a SAC fly RBI, Racers' shortstop Dylan Brammer crushed an (0-1) pitch over the left field wall for a two-run home run, tying the game at 7-7.
When all the momentum appeared to have swung in favor of the visitors, Estep put the Cardinals on top for good.
In his 81st collegiate at-bat, Estep jumped on a hanging breaking ball and drove it over the left field fence, for his first-career home run.
"I just wanted to widen up and put the ball in play and make something happen," Estep said. "I saw a pitch and it was elevated and I just wanted to put a good swing on it and it ended up going out."
Estep's hit proved to be a game-winner for the Cardinals (9-25), who have won back-to-back games for only the second time this season.
"It's pretty neat, but at the moment, I'm really not thinking of that," Estep said of winning back-to-back games. "I'm just trying to give our team a chance to win and it just happened to be a home run. It's pretty cool, getting it out of the way."