Iron sharpens iron.
Ball State baseball (18-12, 12-2 MAC) won 10 of their last 11 games going into their series against No. 23 Oregon (21-11, 7-5 Big-12). Coming off this hot streak, the Cardinals knew they would have a tough opponent ahead, as the Ducks are the only nationally ranked program they have faced all season.
“This is what we do,” Ball State head coach Rich Maloney said. “We’ve been a good program for a long time and we play the best.”
Ultimately, Ball State left Eugene, Oregon with one win in their four games played against the Ducks. However, Maloney said this series better prepared the Cardinals for the remainder of the season.
“We’re not going to play a better team,” Maloney said. “That’s going to be the intensity we’re going to have to play with down the stretch if we’re going to have a chance.”
In game one, the Cardinals would taste defeat, losing 13-7 to the Ducks. Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the game was tied 6-6.
Maloney said he was proud of the effort Ball State put in and the will the Cardinals showed to compete with a team like Oregon all weekend. In game one, the Cardinals collected 13 hits compared to the Ducks eight. Freshman first baseman Jacob Walsh and sophomore right fielder Anthony Hall each hit two run home runs for Oregon.
Game two would belong to the Cardinals, as they defeated Oregon 3-2. Junior left fielder Zach Cole went 2-4, including a solo home run.
Maloney said this win, and the rest of the weekend, proved the Cardinals are a legitimate threat to any team they face.
“I thought they showed they can play with some of the best in the country,” Maloney said. “I think we can build on that.”
In game three, the Cardinals would start off hot, scoring three runs in the first inning. After that, the Ducks pitching staff would settle in and hold the Cardinals to seven hits and one run in the eight innings that followed, leading Oregon to a 10-4 win.
The first three games of the series saw the Cardinals out-hit the Ducks, getting double digit hits in each contest. Maloney said Ball State’s depth is what makes them a competitive team.
“It’s huge because you’re never out of games,” Maloney said. “It always puts a lot of pressure on our opponent because there are no gimmies in our lineup.”
In the final game of the four game series, the Cardinals and Ducks would trade blows throughout, and the Cardinals tied the game after solo home runs from fifth year catcher Adam Christianson and senior third baseman Ryan Peltier. The game came down to the final half inning.
With the bases loaded, sophomore Tyler Ganus entered the game as a pinch hitter for the Ducks and hit a single to win the game for Oregon, 7-6. Maloney said games and weekends like these will teach Ball State valuable lessons in how to succeed under pressure.
For the weekend, Cardinal standouts included fifth year right fielder Nick Powell who went 8-19 with a double and two RBIs and junior left fielder Zach Cole who went 6-16 with a double, triple and home run along with five RBIs. Sophomore right fielder Anthony Hall led the Ducks, going 6-15 with two home runs and four RBIs.
The rest of the regular season will consist of only Mid-American Conference (MAC) games for Ball State. Maloney said this weekend has set the Cardinals up for success against their conference opponents and he was excited about how the Cardinals played.
“Our boys played their hearts out,” Maloney said. “Oregon is a projected No. 2 seed in the NCAA Regional and we were right there with them all weekend.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play Akron (10-21, 8-12 MAC) in a four game series spanning from April 15-April 17 in Muncie, Indiana at Ball Diamond.