RECAP: Ball State heads to losers' bracket with loss to Ohio in MAC Tournament
In Ball State baseball's 4-3 loss to Ohio, only one batter seemed to be able to get a hit against the Cardinals.
In the top of the ninth, Ohio's senior right fielder Spencer Ibarra dug into the batters' box against Ball State redshirt sophomore Evan Marquardt with two outs and runners on first and second. He sat back and drove the 0-1 pitch to left field for an RBI single that gave Ohio the 4-3 lead on his fifth hit of the game.
It was Ibarra's fifth and final hit of the game — the rest of the Bobcats combined for just two.
MAC Tournament schedule (**Elimination game)
(All games in Avon, Ohio and broadcast on ESPN3)
9:30 a.m. No. 3 Eastern Michigan vs. No. 7 Northern Illinois**
1 p.m. No. 8 Toledo vs. No. 4 Ball State**
4:30 p.m. No. 6 Western Michigan vs. No. 2 Central Michigan
8 p.m. No. 5 Ohio vs. No. 1 Kent State
1 p.m. Winner of EMU/NIU vs. Loser of WMU/CMU**
4:30 p.m. Winner of Toledo/Ball State vs. loser of Ohio/Kent State**
The winners of WMU/CMU and Ohio/Kent State advance to Saturday's semifinals against the winners of Friday's games and would have to lose twice to be eliminated. The championship game is scheduled for 12 p.m. Sunday.
But self-inflicted wounds drove up Ball State's pitch counts as the Cardinals' pitchers combined for 10 walks, two hit batters and four wild pitches. Still, the pitching staff and defense limited the damage as much as they could by stranding 16 Bobcats on base.
It started in the first frame, when senior third baseman Alex Maloney made a diving stop before throwing out Ohio sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott. Ibarra had led off the game with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, but the play kept him from advancing to third with two outs. The Cardinals escaped the inning without allowing a run and Maloney followed his play with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first to give Ball State a 1-0 lead.
Later, redshirt senior left-handed pitcher Kevin Marnon relieved starting pitcher Colin Brockhouse with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and Ball State trailing 2-1. It took him just three pitches to get the inning-ending groundout that kept it a one-run game.
Brockhouse, a junior right-handed pitcher, got the no-decision. He allowed just two runs in 5.2 innings with 7 strikeouts, even though he gave up five hits, racked up 5 walks and hit two batters.
Marquardt replaced Marnon in the top of the seventh. He allowed two runs, both earned, while walking five batters in 2.1 innings and was later credited with the loss.
Ball State had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, senior second baseman Sean Kennedy was hit by a pitch. Junior Jeff Riedel stepped in and worked a 3-1 count while Kennedy advanced to second and third on a wild pitch and passed ball. The right-handed batter slapped a hard ground ball down the first baseline, but Rott made a diving stop of his own and threw to redshirt junior closer Jake Roehn covering first for the final out.
Roehn was credited with the win after pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth with three strikeouts.
Ball State continues the MAC Tournament against Toledo 1 p.m. Thursday. The winner plays the loser of No. 1 Kent State and No. 5 Ohio, while the loser is eliminated from the tournament.