The No. 1 Kent State baseball team was in pursuit of a fifth-consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship. All that stood between the Golden Flashes and a spot in the Championship game was a pair of Ball State pitchers.
Chris Marangon, a senior pitcher, started in what was likely the biggest game of his career on Saturday. And he delivered.
“He was outstanding,” coach Rich Maloney said. “He kept the Kent hitters off balance, and just gave us a huge lift.”
The Cardinals defeated Kent State 3-1 on Friday, behind a huge game from junior right-hander T.J. Weir. Weir notched seven strike outs on the day, and allowed seven hits and one earned run.
Kent State had not been held to one run in any game since falling to Notre Dame on March 26.
The Golden Flashes moved to the loser’s portion of the double-elimination bracket and defeated No. 5 Miami to earn a rematch with Ball State.
Marangon made sure that Kent State would move no further in the bracket with his performance on Saturday. Over a span of eight innings pitched, he allowed just one earned run on six hits.
He held the high-caliber Golden Flashes’ offense to just one run for the second time in two days. Ball State won by a final score of 4-1.
Marangon has had an up-and-down year, and it is safe to say that after Saturday’s win, it is an “up” portion of the year for him. The same is true for the entire Ball State team, but the goal at hand has not changed.
“We’re playing with a great deal of confidence, but we’ve still got one more win to go get” Maloney said. “But we’ve put ourselves in position, and it’s very exciting for the team.”
Ball State’s Saturday victory was its 31st of the season. A program that had won just 29 games in 2011 and 2012 combined did not appear to have the tools necessary to make this kind of run at the MAC Championship.
“Exciting,” as Maloney put it, certainly fits the bill for describing this team’s turnaround.
Ball State now awaits the winner of No. 6 Bowling Green and No. 7 Toledo. If Bowling Green wins, the MAC Championship will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. If Toledo wins, on the other hand, the Championship game will be played Sunday at 12 p.m.