Cardinals get playing, coaching experience in Ball State Baseball win
After getting rained out Saturday and snowed out Sunday, Ball State (18-9, 4-0 MAC) woke up Monday to some better news. According to the Collegiate Baseball Division I poll, the Cardinals were ranked 28th in the nation, and they showed why in their 12-5 win over Indiana Kokomo (24-10, 12-3 RSC).
“This was a good day for us to get the work in that we need to prepare for next weekend,” head coach Rich Maloney said.
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning and added five more runs in the second. The big second inning was highlighted by a bases-clearing double by senior John Ricotta. That hit brought home three runs. He finished the game with four RBIs.
Having won eight straight games going into Monday, Ricotta said the team had to stay focused keep doing what it’s doing moving forward.
“We’ve been playing pretty consistent lately and winning games,” Ricotta said. “We try not to think too much about it. We just try to do the same thing we do every day.”
The Cardinals scored all 12 of their runs in the first five innings, and Maloney decided to empty the bench in the top of the sixth to give more players time on the field.
“It’s important that they understand that when they get in there, we should expect there isn’t much difference,” Maloney said. “The gap of competition between one player and another shouldn’t be very big. It’s important for them to keep doing what they’re doing, working really hard and just trying to get better every day so that gap closes.”
Maloney gave more opportunities than just playing. He said he wanted to treat the last few innings as a teaching moment for the younger players, so he took a break from coaching the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning, moved assistant coach Blake Beemer to third and sent junior Aaron Simpson to coach first.
“It was an awesome experience,” Simpson said with a laugh while his teammates teased him from behind. “I just happened to be next to coach, and he said, ‘Hey, you’re coaching first,’ and I said, ‘OK.’ Too bad we couldn’t get any runs, so I didn’t do my part that inning.”
Simpson was able to give a helmet tap and a “Good job” to freshman Ryan Peltier after a one-out single in the seventh.
Maloney sent junior Lukas Jaksich to coach first base the next inning. While he said he loved having the opportunity, he was disappointed he wasn’t Maloney’s first choice.
“He just handed [Simpson] his helmet and said, ‘Go to first,’ and everyone was like, ‘Woah! Woah!’” Jaksich said. “I was right there, and I was hands on the hips like, ‘Come on coach.’ He goes, ‘Alright, you got next inning.’ I had the stopwatch, the sunglasses and everything. I felt good out there.”
Jaksich didn’t get a chance to have a runner on base, but he said fans would have been entertained if someone got a hit.
“If there was a ball in the gap or something, I was going to go crazy waving my arms and telling him to go. I was going to scream a little bit,” Jaksich said. “There was going to be something going on that would have been a crowd-pleaser.”
The Cougars managed to load the bases and hit a grand slam in the ninth, but it only put a dent in the deficit as the Cardinals recorded the final outs to earn the victory.
Ball State’s next game will be Wednesday hosting Manchester at 4:30 p.m.