Ball State (21-11, 5-2 MAC) took down Butler (17-13, 1-2 Big East) 12-5 Tuesday behind the performance of a four-man pitching staff.
Senior Nick Floyd pitched the first three innings, giving up just one run with a season-high six strikeouts. His outing earned him his fifth win of the season.
“I thought Nick was very effective,” head coach Rich Maloney said.
Freshman Ty Weatherly followed with 3.2 innings. In his first three frames, he held the Bulldogs scoreless, allowing just two batters to reach base.
“I thought Ty Weatherly was outstanding,” Maloney said. “He was throwing his stuff for strikes. He’s really starting to come on, and that’s what we need. We need some guys to get better. He’s going to end up being a prospect. There’s no doubt about it, but he’s only a rookie and he’s growing, and that’s what it’s about.”
After nabbing a pair of strikeouts for the first two outs in the seventh to notch a career-high seven strikeouts, he ran into some trouble. Weatherly walked two batters, and Maloney went to redshirt senior Brendan Burns out of the bullpen.
Burns gave up a single to load the bases, and then Harrison Freed hit a first-pitch grand slam to shorten the Cardinals’ lead to 8-5. He bounced back in the eighth inning, setting Butler down in order.
“Brendan — after he did that, I thought he had a pretty good inning the next inning, so that was encouraging,” Maloney said.
Sophomore Kyle Nicolas came on in the ninth to shut the door, and he did just that. He struck out all three batters he faced to put the cap on a 12-5 win.
Maloney said Nicolas’ outing was a good bounce-back performance after giving up five runs and five walks in less than an inning just three days prior.
“Kyle Nicolas, how nice was that?” Maloney said. “To get back on the saddle after a tough outing — that’s the deal. You fight back, and he looked great. That was the Kyle we know we have.”
Weatherly said he knew the team’s pitchers were capable of a game like this, and Tuesday revealed why.
“Pitching staff did really good. We’ve been really consistent all year,” Weatherly said. “We know we have a lot of talented arms on this staff, and everyone stepped up. Burns, Floyd, Kyle, myself — I thought we did really good today.”
On the offensive side, the Cardinals recorded 12 hits, and seven of the team’s 12 runs came with two outs.
In the three innings the Cardinals scored more than one run, it seemed as though all they needed was one batter to reach base for the floodgates to open. Senior Will Baker credited scoring multiple runs in a frame to contagious hitting.
“The more we can get people on base and get something started, the easier it is to hit because hitting is contagious. As weird as that sounds, it is,” Baker said. “It’s something that sparks some life. You get one guy on, get him over and you score a run, and the next thing you know you’re scoring four or five.”
The Cardinals’ win marked their ninth without a loss against an in-state opponent this season. They have two games with Indiana and one with Purdue still to come. Ball State will play at home against Eastern Michigan next on Friday at 3 p.m.