The Ball State Cardinals (28-15, 12-4 MAC) won two of the three games against the Northern Illinois Huskies (14-29, 10-8 MAC) to put the Cardinals toward the top of the Mid-American Conference standings this past weekend at the Ralph McKinzie Field in DeKalb, Illinois.
Sophomore pitcher Drey Jameson kept the Huskies down on Friday, pitching eight innings and striking out 16. The Cardinals won 6-2.
“We pitched extremely well in the first two games, Drey Jameson was outstanding,” said Head Coach Rich Maloney.
The Cardinals came out hot Friday, claiming five of their six runs in the first four innings against the Huskies. Overall, Ball State had a total of 10 hits compared to Northern Illinois’ seven.
Senior John Ricotta graduated on Saturday, but his hitting Friday showed his head was focused on the game. Ricotta went 3 for 4 with an RBI double in the second inning, a two-run homer in the fourth and a single in the eighth.
“John Ricotta had a really good weekend, which is really good to see because usually when Johnny gets hot, our team rolls,” Maloney said.
Saturday’s game ended similar to Friday’s with the Cardinals securing a 4-1 win, putting Ball State ahead 2-0 for the weekend triple header. Junior John Baker started on the mound for the Cardinals, throwing a no-hitter going to the seventh inning, and was relieved by senior Nick Floyd, who retired six of his seven batters to end the game.
Leading the team in home runs for the season is junior Ross Messina, who clenched his seventh homer on a left-center shot in the first inning Saturday to give the Cardinals an early boost. He would later hit another home run in Sunday’s game, totaling to eight on the seasons.
Maloney said he has been one of their best offensive players all season.
“Ross Messina has been great all year for us, just a great player and really our all-around run producer for runs scored and RBI’s,” Maloney said.
Northern Illinois wasn’t done, though. The Huskies came out Sunday afternoon for the final game of the weekend and left with a 7-5 win, splitting the weekend 2-1. The Cardinals held a 4-2 lead until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Huskies put up five runs. The Cardinals tried to comeback in the eighth, scoring one, but it was not enough to makeup for the runs lost in the seventh to the Huskies.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals are now 14-5 in the MAC. With the MAC Championships just around the corner, Maloney is hopeful the Cardinals will finish high in the standings.
“I’m encouraged, not discouraged,” Maloney said. “I am looking forward to coming back home and hopefully we can play great baseball down the stretch here and have a chance to compete for the title.”
The Cardinals will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, on Tuesday to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in their last non-conference matchup of the season.