Quartermaine, Losey shine, errors stall Ball State in First Pitch Invitational

<p>Ball State junior center fielder Aaron Simpson, left, senior first baseman John Ricotta, freshman designated hitter Andre Orselli, and freshman left fielder Mack Murphy celebrate Ricotta's home run in the first during the Cardinals' game against Purdue March 19, 2019 at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex in Muncie. Ricotta's home run put the Cardinals up 3-0. <strong>Paige Grider, DN</strong></p>

Ball State junior center fielder Aaron Simpson, left, senior first baseman John Ricotta, freshman designated hitter Andre Orselli, and freshman left fielder Mack Murphy celebrate Ricotta's home run in the first during the Cardinals' game against Purdue March 19, 2019 at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex in Muncie. Ricotta's home run put the Cardinals up 3-0. Paige Grider, DN

In Ball State Baseball’s (3-7, 0-0 MAC) month-long trip down south in February, it took the Cardinals a couple series to find their groove. After the first two weekends, they stood at 2-5, but they picked it up in the second half of the trip, going 6-3 the rest of the way.

Three weeks into this season, the Cardinals haven’t quite found it yet, sitting at 3-7 with five games until their home opener. Here are some takeaways from Ball State’s performance at the First Pitch Invitational in South Carolina. 

The other guys

Last weekend, it was the usual suspects. Senior outfielders Ross Messina and Aaron Simpson, who tied for the team lead in hits a year ago, came through with game-winning hits in the first two games of the series and went on to have big days at the plate in game three.

In four games, the duo combined for just two hits this weekend. However, they had some help.

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader with Kansas, junior third baseman Trenton Quartermaine and sophomore outfielder Mack Murphy each went 2-for-4 at the plate. Murphy drove home two in the sixth inning with a triple, which wound up being most of the team’s offense for the game.

The second game of the day featured more from Quartermaine, as he once again recorded a pair of hits, including a two-run double in the seventh to give the Cardinals a lead. He was joined by junior catcher Adam Christianson, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run.

Quartermaine was at it again Sunday, getting on base in four of his five plate appearances, which included two more hits and two more RBIs. This time, the complementary bats came from redshirt sophomore second baseman Noah Navarro and junior outfielder Nick Powell, as they each came around to score twice. Navarro also reached base four times, and Powell notched two hits and a walk.

Steady Losey

In his 2019 campaign, sophomore pitcher Zach Losey was only called on once. He faced two batters against Kansas March 10, giving up an RBI double and inducing a flyout.

Before this season started, head coach Rich Maloney didn’t have Losey in a set role in the bullpen. Now, he has become one of Ball State’s most-reliable arms in relief.

Maloney threw Losey into the first inning against Georgia Southern Feb. 15 already facing a 14-0 deficit. Losey went on to pitch the next five innings while only allowing one run and four hits. A week later, he pitched two shutout innings against Houston Baptist.

On Saturday, Losey entered the game with the Cardinals trailing 4-2. He pitched the fifth, sixth and seventh innings without letting anyone reach base.

You didn’t earn that

In their four games this past weekend, the Cardinals recorded a total of nine errors in the field, which led to 10 unearned runs.

In Friday’s game against Western Carolina, an error in the fifth inning sparked a four-run frame that would have been enough to win the game on its own. None of those four runs were earned, and neither were the other two the Catamounts scored in the seventh.

After playing a clean first game Saturday, the Cardinals had more fielding troubles in the second game. Kansas scored four runs in the contest, but only two were earned thanks to two of Ball State’s three errors in the game.

The Cardinals fell by a score of 8-6 Sunday to Michigan State. They recorded two errors in the seventh inning, which led to a pair of runs for the Spartans. The second run of the inning gave Michigan State the lead, and it held onto it for the last two frames.

Contact Zach Piatt with comments at zapiatt@bsu.edu or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.

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