Messina’s walk-off sacrifice fly lifts Ball State Baseball over Purdue Fort Wayne
Ball State (13-9, 0-0 MAC) walked it off Wednesday after facing an 11-8 deficit in the ninth inning against Purdue Fort Wayne (4-15).
The Cardinals’ offensive power came early as the team notched six runs in the first three innings. Four of those runs came in the first. The opening frame was highlighted by freshman Andre Orselli’s RBI triple out of the cleanup spot.
Just as the Cardinals’ bats slowed down later in the game, the Mastodons’ heated up. Ball State led 6-1 until the sixth inning when Purdue Fort Wayne scored five to tie the game. The eighth inning featured another four runs for the Mastodons.
It came down to the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals trailing 11-8. With one out, the Cardinals loaded the bases, down by two runs. An RBI from junior Aaron Simpson tied the game at 11. It came down to junior Ross Messina, who hit a shallow fly ball to center field. Redshirt sophomore Tim Blankenberger dove across home plate to give the victory to Ball State.
“I wanted to elevate the ball into the outfield to stay away from the double play,” Messina said. “I just wanted to do it for my teammates. You have to hit to win these kinds of games. It was a good team win.”
Although the Cardinals’ offensive pressure fizzled out in the middle of the game, pitching brought more adversity to the team.
After suffering an injury in the second inning, junior pitcher Lukas Jaksich had to leave the game, and freshman Ty Weatherly came into the game in relief.
“I thought Ty did a really nice job,” head coach Rich Maloney said. “He did what we needed him to do as a rookie.”
Weatherly put together a career performance despite giving up five earned runs and four hits. Of those earned runs, only one came in his first three innings on the bump. The rest came in his final inning. Weatherly pitched a total of 4.1 innings, the most he has thrown in his collegiate career. He also recorded a career-high seven strikeouts.
“It feels good [to get playing time],” Weatherly said. “It’s good for the confidence to come in and get quality innings. Our offense got off to a hot start, so that gave me even more confidence.”
Ball State will kick off the Mid-American Conference schedule with a three-game home series this weekend.