“Anything you can do” seemed to be what Ball State (16-9, 3-0 MAC) was humming in a 14-8 win against Valparaiso (5-16, 0-0 Valley) Wednesday.
The Crusaders scored the first runs of the day, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Cardinals responded with two runs of their own.
“You get hit by a two spot and you come right back. That really is impressive,” Ball State head coach Rich Maloney said. “That was important for our team to settle things down and answer right back. That was a good sign.”
The Cardinals pushed seven runs across in the first three innings on just five hits. Seven runners reached base by way of either a walk or hit-by-pitch.
Junior Noah Powell walked away from the game with a few more bruises, as he was hit three times in five plate appearances. He credited his new tattoos to the game plan.
“Some of their pitchers’ command was a little iffy, so I started coming in,” Powell said. “Luckily, some of them hit me.”
The Cardinals took an 11-2 lead into the eighth inning due in large part to their six-man pitching staff for the day. Junior Mike Pachmayer highlighted the group, holding the Crusaders scoreless and hitless in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
“My defense made some plays for me, and that’s really what I strive for is putting it over the plate and letting the defense work behind me,” Pachmayer said. “If I get a strikeout, awesome. If not, I know that they’re going to be back there making plays.”
The eighth inning is when more adversity hit the Cardinals. They seemed to be cruising with a nine-run lead until the Crusaders plated five runs out of nowhere. Ball State responded again with three in the bottom half.
“Our goal every inning is to win the inning,” Powell said. “Try to win every inning, try to not have any goose eggs up there. Being able to come back after coming down just revamps our pitchers and helps us hitters knowing that if we get in a tough situation, we’re able to get out of it.”
Valparaiso added one more in the ninth to bring the final score to 14-8 and give Ball State its seventh straight win.
Preseason Mid-American Conference favorite Kent State comes to Muncie Friday for a three-game series with the Cardinals. In Maloney’s second stint with Ball State from 2013 to now, his teams are 10-8 against the Golden Flashes. He said he is excited for the series.
“It’s always been pretty evenly matched,” Maloney said. “We have great respect for their program, they have respect for ours and it should be some really good baseball.”
The Cardinals and Golden Flashes will clash Friday at 3 p.m.