It was a scenario Ball State has seen several times lately. The Cardinals were holding a close 5-3 lead late in the game, with the bullpen in to close the game out.
Trailing by two heading in the top of the eighth, Ohio was threatening to tie the game or take the lead.
Ball State’s Miles Moeller entered the game for Scott Baker, who pitched six innings and gave up three unearned runs, and struck out the first two batters before hitting the third.
Tyler Jordan relieved Moeller, but committed a balk, advancing the batter to second. After a walk, Ohio hit a softly tapped ball down the right field line, which Jordan ran to easily.
He bent down to pick up the ball, and fumbled it.
Jordan couldn’t recover in time, and the bases were loaded.
“It’s never been easy all season, we think something is right there, and it falls apart,” Ball State coach Rich Maloney said. “We didn’t want that to be the case this time.”
Jordan pitched a ball to the next batter, and Maloney has seen enough, pulling him for T.J. Weir.
With a 2-2 count, Weir’s threw a sharp breaking ball. The pitch hit the dirt in front of the batter and bounced away, allowing a run to come home, cutting the lead to 5-4.
“The fact that we were up by two at the point helped make the decision to throw that pitch,” Maloney said. “We had trust that if something went wrong, we’d still have the lead.”
With a 3-2 count, Weir fired a pitch on the right side of the plate, it crossed and Ohio didn't swing, ending the inning.
The late inning drama wasn’t over.
After getting the first out in the top of the ninth, Weir allowed two consecutive singles to right field.
Was Weir thinking, here we go again?
“I was trying my best not to, but it’s hard not to after some of the debacles we’ve went through this season,” Weir said. “You have to trust the guys behind you and trust the catcher, execute and hope it works out.”
There was nobody warming up in the bullpen, it was Weir’s game to win or lose.
Holding a 1-2 count, Weir fired a pitch that hit the dirt, but Jake Madsen went around and gave Ohio its second out.
Leading the next batter 1-2 as well, Dan Schmidt hit a soft ground ball back to Weir, who fielded it and tossed to first to end the game.
“I just wanted to make sure to field it cleanly,” Weir said. “Just take my time and get the throw to first and end the game, but make sure I slow down and don’t try to rush it.”
This time, Ball State slowed down enough to pull out a win, in a situation where it’s been prone to give up runs that result in losses.
Baker received his ninth win of the season, increasing his record to 9-1.
Ball State will face Ohio on Saturday, first pitch is at 1:00 p.m. Chris Marangon is expected to start.