In a roller coaster season that’s seen a lot of both highs and lows, Ball State reached its highest point on Wednesday.
Ball State traveled to Indiana to take on a Hoosier baseball team that’s ranked No. 11 in the country.
The Cardinals came out victorious, winning 5-3 behind the arms of starter Clay Manering and reliever Tyler Jordan.
Kevin Schlotter singled to start the top of the third, then freshman catcher Sam Tidaback singled to advance Schlotter to third with no outs.
Elbert DeVarie stepped up to the plate and grounded to second, resulting in Tidaback getting the first out, but Schlotter came home and gave Ball State an early 1-0 lead.
After Wes Winkle singled, Blake Beemer was safe on a throwing error to load the bases with just one out, sending Sean Godfrey to the plate.
Godfrey sent a fly ball to center, and the throw from center went flying past the third baseman, allowing DeVarie and Winkle to score and extending the lead to 3-0.
It didn’t take Indiana long to respond, as they put the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the third on first with a single, then he advanced to third during a pickoff attempt that got past Cody Campbell.
A routine fly ball to center could have been an out, but Winkle missed it and the ball rolled to the wall, allowing Indiana to score and the batter to reach third.
Manering got out of the inning without giving up another run.
In the top of the fourth, Schlotter and Tidaback were at it again. Schlotter walked, and Tidaback doubled, bringing in Schlotter and extending the lead to 4-1.
The Hoosiers cut into the lead in the top of the seventh. After Scott Donley singled, Dustin DeMuth crushed a home run over the fence to cut the lead to just one.
Then the rain hit, the rain that has seemed to follow the Cardinals everywhere this season.
Already seven games for Ball State had been rained out this season, and the rain delay threatened to end the game early.
Eventually, the rain stopped and about three hours later, the game resumed.
With a man on first and two outs, Indiana’s Dustin DeMuth hit a long fly ball to right field that seemed like it could give Indiana the lead, but it settled into Godfrey’s glove to end
the inning, Ball State still leading 4-3.
The Cardinals tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth. DeVarie started the inning by belting a double to left field, then advanced to third off a Winkle sacrifice. When Beemer grounded out to third, DeVarie sprinted home, extending the lead to 5-3.
The Hoosiers gave its last breath in the bottom of the ninth, when Jordan hit the leadoff batter. However, Ball State quickly turned a double play, and then induced a fly out to end the game.
For Ball State, it was its first win against both a Big Ten school and a ranked team this season.
The win increased Ball State’s record to 16-17, and Indiana fell to 26-8.
Ultimately, the game counts as just one more dash in the win column, and not even one in the MAC at that.
But there’s little doubt that this one win will feel even more special to the Ball State team.