The Ball State Cardinals (33-17, 17-5 MAC) swept the Ohio Bobcats (16-30, 10-13 MAC) at the Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex this weekend in a series of three games which included the third no-hitter in school history.
A drought of action for the Cardinals found themselves down 2-0 after three innings and zero hits on Friday. Sophomore pitcher Drey Jameson keep a cool head throughout the ball game and recorded 100 pitches with eight strikeouts before being relieved by senior Nick Floyd in the fifth.
Junior Noah Powell played a game-changing part in the team’s comeback when he hit a triple RBI in the seventh. Once business was taken care off they advanced to the final with some impressive defense from the bullpen. Ball State would take the first game 4-2.
As the chilly air hung around Muncie, the weekend moved onward to Saturday’s double-header which started at 12 p.m.
The Cardinal bullpen pulled out all the stops throughout the game and ended the day with the first no-hitter in over 20 years for Ball State. The driving force behind the milestone was John Baker with nine strikeouts over 116 pitches and Lukas Jaksich who came in for relief at the top of the eighth inning.
“A no-hitter in baseball is a rare thing and when it happens it is always very exciting,” said Head Coach Rich Maloney.
Other than the excellence on the mound, many Cardinals stepped up to the batter’s box with confidence throughout the game. Aaron Simpson got the party started with an RBI double and was followed by Will Baker’s sacrifice fly to put Ball State over Ohio 2-0 at the bottom of the third. After a left and center field single, the Cardinals were now five runs over the Bobcats and would carry that tally to the end of the game.
The final matchup of the weekend was played just a short while after the historic performance of Baker and Jaksich ended.
It seemed like the team seated at second place in the MAC would drop the sweep after acquiring a four run deficit in the third, but the Cardinals didn’t give up easily.
A sacrifice fly from Griffin Hulecki in the fourth and an RBI double from the first baseman John Ricotta in the fifth got Ball State back into winning contention. Simpson came up big in the sixth inning with a two run RBI triple that brought the score to an even five apiece, and he subsequently scored the winning run off of Baker’s bunt.
This weekend Ball State faces Toledo in their final regular season series at Ball Diamond.
“It is hard to sweep anybody, so we are going to have to play our best baseball if we are going to want to do that,” Maloney said. “They are a good hitting team. They’ve got a really good pitcher and a good relief pitcher.”
With the MAC Championship less than two weeks away and the Cardinals half a game behind Central Michigan, this weekend was important to the team’s chances at a title run.
“What [this weekend] did do is give us a chance to be playing for something on the last weekend … because we played so well and fought so hard and were able to get those victories,” Maloney said. “The thing I am most proud of with this group is that we are a team and the success we have had is directly related to us playing as a team … I think that’s the real story of this season.”