Ball State coach Rich Maloney said going into Wednesday’s game that Ball State’s and Northern Kentucky’s records could be thrown out the window because it was a midweek game.
He couldn’t have been more prophetic.
The 12-13 Cardinals fell to the 4-24 Norse, 10-9, in one of the team’s most bizarre games of the season.
Even though Northern Kentucky got on the board first in the top of the second, despite not getting a hit, Ball State blew the game wide open in the bottom of the fourth.
After leading off the inning with a single, Sean Godfrey scored on Billy Wellman’s ground ball up the middle. Tyler Curry singled and T.J. Weir walked to load the bases with nobody out.
Campbell doubled and James singled, extending the lead to 4-1. After Cole Griesinger was safe at first on an error, Beemer scored Campbell, then DaVarie singled and Wellman doubled to extend the lead to 8-1 before the inning ended.
“You’re all just sitting there, thinking that you’re going to make every play and that nothing can go wrong,” Wellman said about the fourth inning. “Unfortunately we fell apart after that and it didn’t work out for us.”
Northern Kentucky didn’t take much time responding. After scoring two in the top of the fifth, they retook the lead an inning later.
Kyle Raleigh was pulled for Tyler Jordan after a lead-off walk, two singles and a walk that brought in a run. After a fly out and another walk to make it 8-5, Northern Kentucky’s Logan Spurlin hit a grand slam to retake the lead, 9-8.
After a Norse player stole second base in the top of the eighth, Maloney’s anger reached its limit. The Ball State coach rushed out of the dugout to argue with the second base umpire for the second time in the game. He followed the umpire all the way to the third base line, where the umpire tossed him.
It was the first time this season Maloney has been ejected.
“We didn’t do the things we needed to do today, and I was frustrated,” Maloney said. “Throw more strikes and make routine plays, otherwise it’s going to be a long day.”
Northern Kentucky laced a single to right field after the ejection, bringing in another run to make it 10-8.
Ball State cut into the lead and made it 10-9 when Beemer brought home Campbell in the bottom of the eighth, but Sean Godfrey grounded out to end the inning with Ball State still trailing.
The Cardinals wouldn’t get any closer. With Wes Winkle on third in the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Curry struck out and Campbell grounded out to end the game.
For Maloney, there’s nothing he wants more than to get back in the dugout against Western Michigan on Friday.
“We didn’t represent Ball State the way we wanted to as far as performance,” Maloney said. “The bottom line is that we have to play better baseball to win. Today we didn’t deserve to win.”