Early offense, pitching give Ball State Baseball first home win

<p>Ball State's Will Baker hits the ball during the game against Dayton March 18, 2018, at Ball Diamond at First Merchant’s Ballpark Complex. The hit ended up being a foul ball. <strong>Briana Hale, DN</strong></p>

Ball State's Will Baker hits the ball during the game against Dayton March 18, 2018, at Ball Diamond at First Merchant’s Ballpark Complex. The hit ended up being a foul ball. Briana Hale, DN

First pitch: home run.

Junior Aaron Simpson led off the home half of Ball State’s (9-8, 0-0 MAC) Friday matchup with Purdue Fort Wayne (4-11, 0-0 Summit) in style. With the wind blowing out to center field, Simpson got the ball in the air and let Mother Nature do the rest.

“I was just trying to hit a line drive honestly,” Simpson said. “I knew I barreled it up pretty well, but the Muncie wind is what I’ve been told about, so it happened.”

As Simpson’s teammates were congratulating him in the dugout, redshirt junior Chase Sebby was doing his best to follow up the leadoff home run. Before Simpson could even take off his helmet and batting gloves, Sebby knocked a first-pitch triple to the wall in right field.

Three pitches later, redshirt freshman Noah Navarro tripled down the right field line.

Five pitches, three extra-base hits, two runs.

“I thought that was really nice,” head coach Rich Maloney said with a laugh. “That’s all I can tell you.”

The Cardinals finished their 11-6 victory in their home opener with six extra-base hits. Two of them were doubles from senior Will Baker in the fourth and sixth innings. Both of his doubles were with two outs, and the first brought home two runs. He also walked twice, giving him a perfect on-base percentage for the day.

Baker now has a hit in four of the Cardinals’ last six games. During that stretch, he has driven in five runs and scored seven. He said he has been trying to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“If you just put the ball in play, it’ll find holes,” Baker said. “Remember that it’s team first. It takes a little bit of pressure off me, so I don’t have to worry about my individual performance.”

The Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first four innings and wouldn’t score again until the seventh.

Discipline played a large role during the Cardinals’ scoring stretch. They ended the game with 11 walks, 10 of which were in the first three innings. Two of them were with the bases loaded, forcing in a pair of runs.

“Any time you get freebies, that’s usually a way to score a lot of runs,” Maloney said. “Hopefully we can earn some more of those because our on-base percentage hasn’t been where we need it to be.”

Along with the offense, pitching came up big for the Cardinals. Senior Nick Floyd threw three innings of no-hit baseball to start the game, and the Mastodons didn’t get their first hit until the sixth.

“Floyd was outstanding, and I thought [Ty] Weatherly did a nice job and [Andre] Oreselli was the best we’ve seen him in a while. That’s encouraging,” Maloney said. “I think those three guys did well, and that’s what we needed to win this game.”

The Mastodons scored all six of their runs in the eighth inning. They threatened again in the ninth, getting the bases loaded, but sophomore Kyle Nicolas escaped the jam to give the Cardinals their first win on their home turf.

Ball State will play Dayton Friday in in Ohio in game one of a four-game weekend series.

Contact Zach Piatt with any comments at zapiatt@bsu.edu or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.


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