Ball State baseball struggles against Central Michigan in MAC Tournament elimination game

<p>Ball State men’s baseball player Jeff Riedel hits the ball during the game against the University of Dayton on March 18 at the Baseball Diamond at First Merchant’s Ballpark Complex. <strong>Briana Hale, DN</strong></p>

Ball State men’s baseball player Jeff Riedel hits the ball during the game against the University of Dayton on March 18 at the Baseball Diamond at First Merchant’s Ballpark Complex. Briana Hale, DN

Ball State baseball gave up a run in the first inning of Friday's Mid-American Conference Tournament elimination game against Central Michigan and had to play catch-up the rest of the way.

After entering the seventh inning with a slight deficit at 3-1, Ball State (32-26) gave up three runs in the top half of the inning, allowing Central Michigan to blow the game open.

The seventh-inning scoring started when Jason Sullivan stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hit an RBI single to right field. With one out and the bases still loaded, a grounder to first base for a fielder's choice scored another run before a throwing error by Ball State at third base led to the third run of the inning and made it a 6-1 game in favor of Central Michigan.

Sophomore Noah Powell was able to drive in a run with a triple in the bottom of the seventh to narrow the gap, but it was all Ball State could muster on the way to a 7-2 defeat, knocking the team out of the MAC Tournament.

The scoring started early in the top half of the first inning when Sullivan hit a ground-rule double down the right-field line to drive in a run with two outs.

Ball State didn't record a hit until the fourth inning when Junior catcher Chase Sebby singled up the middle of the field, but he was later forced out with a fielder's choice at second base to end the inning.

The Chippewas added to their lead in the fifth after a single from Griffin Lockwood-Powell to center field drove in Zach Heeke and gave his team a 2-0 lead. A grounder into a double play helped the Cardinals retire the side and prevent more damage.

Ball State showed some life in their half of the fifth when senior Justin Kirkpatrick singled to left field to drive in senior Seth Freed with two outs. Ball State had a chance to tie with runners on first and third, but Powell hit a grounder to first base for the final out of the inning, leaving William Baker and Kirkpatrick stranded on base.

Some miscues compacted the trouble for Ball State in the sixth inning. It started with a dropped fly ball at right field, allowing Chase Rollin to advance all the way to third to begin the inning. Rollin was then tagged out at home, but a passed ball put another runner in scoring position. Central Michigan capitalized on that error with an RBI single up the middle to score a run and make it 3-1, setting up the crucial seventh inning.

After a forgettable seventh inning for Ball State, Central Michigan added an insurance run in the eighth via an unearned run after a throwing error missed first base and a batter was hit by a pitch. A grounder to second base followed, allowing the final run of the game to score for the Chippewas.

Ball State went down in order in the bottom of the ninth with a fly out, a pop up in foul territory that Central Michigan's second baseman hustled over to grab and a grounder to end the game.

Central Michigan finished the game with three unearned runs.

Sophomore lefty Mike Pachmayer pitched 4.1 innings for Ball State, allowing five hits, striking out three and walking three. Redshirt junior T.J. Baker came in for Pachmayer and pitched 2.1 innings, giving up a pair of earned runs and five hits with one strikeout. Sophomore Nolan Gazouski and redshirt junior Evan Marquardt combined to finish the final 2.1 innings for the Cardinals.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cameron Brown gave Ball State fits throughout the day, allowing just six hits and one earned run in a complete game victory.

Freed was the only Ball State player to record multiple hits, going 2-4 on the day.

Ball State finished its up-and-down season with a record of 32-26.

Contact Nate Fields with comments at or on Twitter@NateNada.


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