It was a disappointing end to an exciting run. One inning is all that kept the Ball State baseball team from claiming its first Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship since 2006.
The Ball State baseball team had all the confidence in the world coming into Sunday's game, but they ran into a team that had simply gotten hot in the Tournament.
The Bowling Green Falcons put up seven runs in the top of the fifth inning, which proved to be more than enough to put Ball State away.
Through four innings sophomore pitcher Scott Baker had held the Falcons scoreless, but he started to fall out of rhythm when a pair of hits put runners at first and third base.
An explosive rally that forced Ball State to move two pitchers into the bullpen, and then onto the mound, did little to affect the remainder of the game.
Tyler Jordan relived Jon Cisna, who had relieved Baker, and pitched well through the final four innings.
Jordan allowed four hits through 4.1 innings, and struck out one batter. Baker finished the day having pitched four innings, in which he gave up six hits, six runs (five earned) and struck out four.
Despite the loss, Baker, fellow pitcher T.J. Weir and catcher Sam Tidaback, were named to the MAC All-Tournament team.
Baker led the Cardinals to a victory in the Tournament’s first game. It was the first time Ball State won its opening tourney game since 2006.
Baker pitched eight innings in the win against No. 5 Miami. He gave up nine hits and four earned runs but pushed Ball State through an early RedHawks rally. The Cardinals went on to win 13-7 one day after Baker was named the MAC Pitcher of the Year.
Weir followed up by pitching an impressive complete game against No. 1 Kent State. The Golden Flashes, four-time defending MAC Tournament Champions, were favorites to win the entire tournament.
He threw 142 pitches over the span of nine innings. The Cardinals held Kent State to just one run in a 3-1 victory.
Ball State defeated Kent State a second time one day later, after the Golden Flashes played their way back into the double-elimination tournament field. Baker earned the save, as the Cardinals called on their ace to close out Kent State after they had loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Baker worked his team out of the jam, and went on to secure a 4-1 victory. That earned Ball State a spot in the Championship game, where Bowling Green got the best of Baker, and held the Cardinals’ offense to virtually nothing.
Tidaback went 0-for-3 on the day, but that was far from the numbers he had posted throughout the tournament. He led all hitters in the MAC Tournament with a .600 batting average in three games.
With the loss the Cardinals dropped to 31-24 on the season. The Cardinals ended the year having won 14-of-18, including a seven-game win streak over that stretch.