Ball State baseball opens season with 2-1 record, win over No. 22 Maryland

Ball State’s baseball team congratulates each other after winning the first game of a double-header against Dayton on March 18. DN PHOTO GRACE RAMEY
Ball State’s baseball team congratulates each other after winning the first game of a double-header against Dayton on March 18. DN PHOTO GRACE RAMEY

Team leaders

Hits: Alex Maloney (5)

Doubles: Seth Freed (3)

Triples: Matt Eppers (1)

Home runs: Sean Kennedy (1)

Runs scored: Freed (4)

RBI: Eppers (3)

Wins: Colin Brockhouse, Kevin Marnon (1 each)

Saves: David Current (1)

Strikeouts: Brockhouse (8)

Ball State baseball didn't waste any time getting into the meat of its schedule this year.

The Cardinals are 2-1 at the end of the season's first weekend after beating then-No. 22 Maryland and Alabama State.

"We had some great glimpses of hope," head coach Rich Maloney said.

Senior right-handed pitcher BJ Butler started against Maryland (1-2), but he was pulled after giving up three runs (one earned) in 4.2 innings.

Junior right-handed pitcher Colin Brockhouse, who returned to Ball State after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 37th round of the MLB Draft, took over with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth and struck out Maryland junior Kevin Biondic to end the inning.

Brockhouse (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was credited with the win after striking out eight batters in the final 4.1 innings of the Cardinals' 8-3 win without giving up a run.

"He showed his true colors and was a star," Maloney said. "He was one of the true stars of this tournament, barring none. That outing was so impressive, I don't know that anyone else had a more impressive outing this weekend. ... That was his best outing thus far as a Cardinal."

Ball State's pitching staff averaged 10 strikeouts per game behind a 3.67 ERA in the three games.

In Saturday's 3-2 win over Alabama State (0-3), redshirt sophomore righty T.J. Baker made his collegiate debut. Left-handed redshirt senior Kevin Marnon got the win, Baker struck out four in two innings without allowing a run.

"This is three years into his career and we're finally seeing him pitch because he got hurt in high school," Maloney said. "Now he's finally healthy, and he was outstanding."

With freshman right-hander John Baker adding three innings without an earned run in his collegiate debut in Sunday's 10-4 loss to Louisville, Ball State pitchers whose last names begin with the letter "B" have allowed a combined 1 earned run in 15 innings.

At the plate, the Cardinals hit a combined .356 and scored 15 runs. Senior shortstop Alex Maloney was 5-12 at the plate with two runs, two RBI and a double, and junior second baseman Seth Freed was 4-12 with three doubles, four runs and two RBI.

"I think we've got a lineup that, as it matures, has the chance to be very potent in a lot of different ways," Rich Maloney said. "I was very pleased with what I saw."

Ball State fell short in its final game against No. 10 Louisville (3-0), but Maloney said he was excited by the flashes of potential he saw.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge, especially when I used Brockhouse in game one," Rich Maloney said. "I felt like it was very important that if we had a chance to win, whatever game we were in, to make sure we did that. That's how we played it, and that's how we beat Maryland, but at that expense it meant Brock couldn't pitch against Louisville."

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Evan Marquardt, for example, allowed four runs (three earned) in 3.1 innings against Louisville, but he struck out three of the first four batters he faced.

"This is a really good first weekend for us," Rich Maloney said. "We're looking forward to go play against the defending national champions next Friday."

Ball State travels to Conway, South Carolina, this weekend to take on No. 19 Coastal Carolina (1-2), who won the NCAA baseball championship last season.

This article has been updated to reflect Monday's Top 25 rankings. Maryland was No. 22 to open the season but dropped out of the rankings after losing to Ball State and Louisville.


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