BASEBALL: Cardinals Kick off 2014 Season with a 7-4 Victory over South Carolina Upstate
- Cardinals erase a 4-1 deficit
- Tyler Jordan pitches 5 shutout innings
- 7 different players score a run
The 2014 season started strong for Ball State.
Facing South Carolina Upstate, Ball State sent its ace, junior Scott Baker, to the mound. Last season’s Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year got off to a shaky start, allowing three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
After working out of further damage in the first, Baker was able to settle down through four innings, allowing one other run to cross home plate.
The Cardinals got on the board for the first time in the top half of the third inning, when senior Sean Godfrey scored on a fielder’s choice cutting Upstate’s lead to 3-1.
Trailing 4-1 after four innings, it looked as if the Cardinals would not be able to muster up enough offense to make up the deficit. Things quickly changed when junior left-fielder Brandon Estep began Ball State’s half of the fifth inning by blasting a home run over the right field wall. The home run made the score 4-2, and the momentum of the game began to tilt in the Cardinals’ favor.
The next batter, freshman Caleb Stayton, reached base after being hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a passed ball. Ball State then received a break when Upstate shortstop, Daniel Fickas, threw away a ball with Ball State’s freshman Alex Call hustling down the first base line. The error allowed Call to move to second and made the score 4-3, with Stayton scoring all the way from second base.
After a walk to sophomore second baseman Ryan Spaulding, there were runners on the corners for the Cardinal’s best hitter, Godfrey. Under pressure, Godfrey delivered, hitting a two-out double that scored Call and Spaulding to give Ball State its first lead of the game.
Holding a 5-4 lead, Ball State head coach Rich Maloney decided to make the call to the bullpen and bring in senior Tyler Jordan to pitch the fifth, and he shut down the opposing offense. In the game’s final five innings, he held Upstate to two hits and did not allow the Spartans to even get close to scoring again.
“Tyler did an unbelievable job,” Maloney said. “You’d have to say that he was the MVP of the game. No question. … He was absolutely marvelous.”
The Cardinals were able to add two more insurance runs, when catcher Sam Tidaback scored on a passed ball in the sixth and Alex Maloney crossed home plate on a double play in the seventh to make the score 7-4.
With Jordan pitching dominantly the three-run lead would prove to be plenty, and after a double play to end the ninth, Ball State walked off the field with what Maloney called a “team victory.”
The Ball State baseball team will play a doubleheader Sunday, when the team takes the field at 10:30 a.m. against Morehead State and Wofford at 2:30 p.m.