For 10 seniors on the Ball State baseball team, Sunday’s 9-8 walk-off victory over Kent State would mark the last time they would play on their home field.
“It’s exciting but sad all at the same time,” senior Kyle Raleigh said after the game. “This is [the] last time we’re ever going to get to play on Ball Diamond. ... I’m really happy [the team] pulled it out on Mother’s Day. It was a great win.”
Trailing 8-5 to begin the ninth, freshman pinch-hitter Caleb Stayton led off the inning with a base hit to start Ball State’s rally. After Stayton reached, right fielder Alex Call laced a single of his own. Two batters later, senior center fielder Sean Godfrey was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Freshman catcher Jarett Rindfleisch followed Godfrey’s hit by pitch with a two-run double to cut the deficit to one run. Freshman third baseman Sean Kennedy delivered a RBI single to tie the game at eight.
After Raleigh flied out for the second out of the inning, it was up to freshman shortstop Alex Maloney to win the game. As he has done on several occasions throughout his freshman season, he came through with a sun-aided bloop single to right field to give the Cardinals its first sweep of the Golden Flashes in over a decade.
“You got to believe every time,” Raleigh said. “Every single person on this team day in and day out puts in the work, puts in the time, and we never quit. That’s the thing about our team, we’re a bunch of rats. ... We are ready to play anytime.”
The win was of special significance — head coach Rich Maloney set the program’s record for all-time wins by a coach with 324.
“It’s very gratifying to have an honor like that,” Maloney said on breaking the school’s record. “But what would be more gratifying is the championship. [Ball State] has three and we want this one pretty bad, and I want this for these seniors.”
Ball State has three games left in the season, a road series against Northern Illinois, before the conference tournament begins.
“All of these guys are going to be my best friends for life,” Raleigh said. “We’re going to another journey. Some are going to get a chance to play at the next level, some aren’t. But we will always have this to be a part of together.”