Redshirt junior catcher Chase Sebby rushed out of class and arrived at Ball Diamond at First Merchant’s Ballpark Complex about 30 minutes before first pitch. He didn’t even have time to take pregame batting practice.
As sophomore Erek Bolton got the start behind the plate, Sebby spent the first five innings hitting off a tee in the batting cage behind the third base dugout.
Sebby got the call to pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth inning, and he had an at-bat that shifted momentum in Ball State’s (19-9, 4-0 MAC) 12-4 win over Manchester (7-14, 2-0 HCAC) Wednesday.
The game took only two and a half hours to complete, mostly due to the lack of scoring through the first half of the game. After five and a half innings, the Spartans had a 4-2 lead, which was peculiar considering the Cardinals had scored at least five runs in the first five innings of their previous nine games.
“I don’t think the dugout really knew what to do,” Sebby said. “We’ve kind of been raking recently. It just took a while to get in a rhythm today, but luckily we pulled it out late.”
When the Cardinals got their turn to bat in the sixth, the tides started to turn. Senior John Ricotta led off with a double. After a bunt single, another double and a walk, the Cardinals found themselves down one with the bases loaded.
Manchester brought in the left-handed Carter Hooks to pitch. With a lefty waiting at the plate, Ball State head coach Rich Maloney decided to bring in Sebby for a better matchup.
“He’s one of our experienced guys,” Maloney said. “My options were either Sebby or [Ryan] Peltier in that situation, and I went with the experience.”
The decision worked out as Sebby lined a two-run single over the infield to give the Cardinals the lead. Sebby said Maloney wasn’t happy he didn’t swing at the first pitch, so he needed to bring the runs home.
“It was a pretty good pitch on the outer half, but it was the first moving ball I’d seen all day,” Sebby said. “I knew I had to get it done if I didn’t swing at that one. It was kind of like either that or I’m going to get ripped a new one.”
In the seventh inning, the Cardinals tacked on two more runs on freshman Mack Murphy’s first collegiate home run. After hitting two doubles against Indiana Kokomo Monday, Murphy said he was due to hit one over the fence.
“Everybody’s been telling me I need to get in the weight room,” Murphy said. “First one feels good, especially because I made a bet with Peltier that I wasn’t going to hit one the whole year, so I won that bet.”
The Cardinals went on to score 10 runs in their last three frames to run away with a 12-4 win. Ball State will travel to Central Michigan Friday for game one of a three-game weekend series.