Graphic by Emily Wright,DN
Ball State Baseball falls to Central Michigan at MAC Championship final, beats Northern Illinois
Despite the Saturday-morning win in a close game against the Huskies in extra innings, the Cardinals fell to the Chippewas later that evening.
The Central Michigan Chippewas (45-12, 22-5 MAC) defeated the Ball State Cardinals (37-18, 20-5 MAC) 6-0 in the Mid-American Conference Championship game at the Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
After Friday’s loss against the Chippewas, the Cardinals first had to face the Northern Illinois Huskies (20-35, 14-12 MAC) which concluded with the Cardinals winning 8-7 in the 11th inning.
The Huskies started by putting up two runs on the board in the first inning, but Ball State came back with three runs when John Ricotta homered to left field scoring Ross Messina and William Baker.
Northern Illinois came back with a run in the third inning, but the Cardinals responded when Chase Sebby grounded out to the Huskies’ third baseman, pushing Ricotta to second and scoring Messina.
In the fourth inning, the Huskies took the lead over the Cardinals with three runs, bringing the score to 6-4.
The Cardinals narrowed the lead by a run in the fifth when Griffin Hulecki reached on a fielder’s choice with Sebby out at second shortstop to a Northern Illinois second baseman, pushing Ricotta to third scoring Messina.
Aaron Simpson’s homer to left center in the sixth inning scoring Noah Powell brought two runs to the Cardinals, putting them back in the lead, until the Huskies tied with them in the eight.
With the score now at 7-7, both teams went runless in the ninth and 10th innings until Nick Powell singled to right center scoring Murphy in the 11th, advancing the Cardinals to the MAC Championship game against Central Michigan.
The Chippewas secured an early lead, with two runs in the first inning, courtesy of a homer by Griffin Lockwood-Powell to center field scoring Zach Gilles.
They held steadily to that lead and earned another run in the fourth inning when Evan Kratt lined out to right fielder Messina scoring Sullivan.
At the end of the fifth inning despite bases being loaded the Cardinals kept the Chippewas from scoring.
In the sixth inning, Central Michigan increased their lead by one run when Gilles walked advancing Zavier Warren to second base, Ty Rollin to third and scoring Kratt. The seventh saw two more runs when Chase Rollin singled to right field, scoring Blake Cleveland and Jason Sullivan.
With no runs scored by either teams in the eighth, the Cardinals went into the top of the ninth down by six runs.
In a last ditch effort to fight back against the Chippewas, the Cardinals attempted to rally after Hulecki walked at the first at bat of the inning. Nick Powell would come up next to strike out, but Ryan Peltier reached on an error by Central Michigan’s third baseman Zach Heeke.
With two men on base, Tim Blankenburg and Simpson would strike out in the next two at bats, leaving the Cardinals with their final loss of the season and giving the Chippewas a trip to NCAA Regionals.