Ball State baseball used back-to-back three-run innings in the third and fourth to put its game against Eastern Michigan out of reach en route to a 6-2 win in the Mid-American Conference Tournament opener.
The game started slowly, with Ball State (32-24, 17-10 MAC) and Eastern Michigan (22-33, 14-13 MAC) combining for just one hit through the first three and a half innings. Right-handed pitcher John Baker was on fire for the Cardinals, not allowing a hit until the fourth inning.
Baker had a day on the mound, allowing just four total hits and one earned run in 7.1 innings pitched, and he struck out seven batters.
Ball State's outpouring of runs started with the first at-bat of the bottom of the third inning when William Baker was walked on a full-count pitch. Noah Powell followed it up with a single through the gap of the left side of the infield, advancing Baker to third base.
Chase Sebby batted in the game's first run with a sacrifice bunt that scored Baker and advanced Powell to second. A fielding error added to Eastern Michigan's disastrous inning when a ball got past the third baseman, allowing Powell to cross the plate for the second run.
Griffin Hulecki drove in the last run of the inning with an RBI single through the left side of the infield, allowing Jeff Riedel to score.
In the fourth, Justin Kirkpatrick started things off with a triple to left-center field. A wild pitch got past the catcher and allowed him to score later in the inning. Powell followed Kirkpatrick's lead, sending a triple of his own to right field that fell to the ground after Eastern Michigan's right fielder couldn't track it down.
Sebby drove Powell in with an RBI single through the gap between the third baseman and shortstop. Two more wild pitches allowed Sebby to move to third, setting up Hulecki for a sacrifice bunt to score Ball State's sixth run. Eastern Michigan got out of the inning with a Seth Freed fly out to center field, but the damage had been done.
Eastern Michigan found a pair of runs in the sixth inning to pull within four, but that was all it could muster. An error by Ball State via a missed throw at first base that went behind a rotating John Baker allowed the Eagles to get their first run, and a single past third base allowed the second to score.
In the seventh, Baker continued to deal on the mound. He retired Eastern Michigan's half of the inning in order with a strikeout and a pair of fly outs.
Baker's day came to an end with one out in the top of the eighth inning, and lefty Mike Pachmayer replaced him and ended the game, striking out two of the seven batters he faced.
With its win today, Ball State has now won 13 of its last 15 games and will face Miami (Ohio) at 6 p.m. Thursday.