Ball State baseball was overpowered by Butler's offense in a 7-3 loss on Tuesday afternoon.
Cardinals head coach Rich Maloney said the team is just a play or two away from ending its five-game losing streak.
"We've got to fight through this adversity that we're having because none of [our] guys want to lose, and they're playing hard, but they're just trying so hard and they're making a few mental mistakes," Maloney said. "We just got to get a timely hit at the right time and relax these guys."
All of the Bulldogs’ (17-7) runs came in the third and fifth innings. In the third, Cardinals junior starting pitcher Brendan Burns hit junior designated hitter Cole Malloy, who was later driven home by junior third baseman Garrett Christman on an RBI single.
Two batters later with the bases loaded, junior right fielder Gehrig Parker cleared the diamond on a short fly ball that turned into a triple bounced past diving Ball State (11-14, 0-3 MAC) senior centerfielder Matt Eppers. Parker scored on an RBI groundout from first baseman Jordan Lucio to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 edge.
The Cardinals got two runs back in the bottom of the inning without recording a hit — the Bulldogs walked three batters and hit two more.
Butler picked up two insurance runs in the fifth after an RBI triple from redshirt junior shortstop Michael Hortnagel was followed by an RBI sacrifice fly from Parker to give Butler the 7-2 lead. Ball State added a run on an RBI fielder’s choice by redshirt sophomore third baseman Zach Milam.
Ball State left 13 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the second, third and eighth innings. Butler left just four runners on base.
"It was huge, [for them] to get that big hit that knocks in a couple guys," Maloney said. "They got it, we didn't ... We had three chances to get [a big hit] and we couldn't get it once."
The Bulldogs used six different pitchers, with only senior right-handed pitcher Danny Pobereyko going more than three innings. Butler’s starter Quentin Miller, a sophomore righty, allowed two hits in two scoreless innings.
Ball State senior shortstop Sean Kennedy went 3-4 with a walk and said Butler's pitching rotation was not why Ball State struggled at the plate.
"We just need to play smarter," Kennedy said. "I mean, the effort’s there, we’re just not losing because of a lack of effort. People are out there giving everything they’ve got … I think we’re one play away from flipping the switch on things."
Burns took the loss in his first start of the season, dropping his record to 1-1. Pobereyko picked up the win for the Bulldogs, bringing his record to 2-1.
It was also the first game back for Ball State senior catcher Caleb Stayton, who had missed the last 13 outings with a concussion. He finished 1-3 with an RBI sacrifice fly in the third inning.
The Cardinals return to action at 3 p.m. Friday, opening a three-game series versus Ohio.