Ball State (10-6, 2-1 MAC) opened the Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular season this weekend at home against Western Michigan (4-9, 1-2 MAC) March 10-11.
The Cardinals opened the weekend with a dominant 11-3 victory. The Broncos got on the board first with two runs in the top of the third before graduate student infielder Ryan Peltier halved Western Michigan's lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the third before sophomore catcher Hunter Dobbins hit a sacrifice fly ball to right center that put Ball State up 3-2. Junior outfielder/first baseman Decker Scheffler followed it up with a triple that added two more runs while freshman pitcher/first baseman Blake Bevis's double to left center drove in another run. Graduate student infielder Justin Conant hit a double to right center to bring Bevis in and the Cardinals took a 7-2 lead heading into the fourth inning.
From there, Ball State didn't look back with senior catcher Matthew Rivera driving in two runs on a single and Turtuci notching an RBI single to extend the lead to 10-2.
The Broncos scored a run in the top of the seventh to cut the deficit to 10-3 before Peltier's solo home run finished the game 11-3 in favor of the home team.
Senior pitcher Trennor O'Donnell got the start on the mound and went six innings with five strikeouts and only two runs surrendered, one earned. He walked three batters and gave up four hits before sophomore pitcher Logan Schulfer earned his first save of the season, striking out four batters and giving up one earned run on three hits.
Game Two (Saturday doubleheader)
The Broncos scored first and fast in the top of the third inning with five runs on six hits. They went on to add four more runs in the top of the fourth to lead 9-0.
Ball State managed to get on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning via a solo home run from Bevis into left field. Western Michigan added a run in the top of the ninth, going on to win 10-1.
Junior pitcher Ty Johnson started on the mound for the Cardinals before senior pitcher Tanner Knapp put in a relief inning. Johnson struck out one batter and gave up one hit while Knapp surrendered eight earned runs on six hits, Knapp recorded the loss and is 0-1 on the season. Following Knapp, graduate student pitcher Ty Weatherly pitched five innings and struck out four batters before junior pitcher Will Jacobson added an inning in relief, giving up one unearned run.
Game Three (Saturday doubleheader)
The Broncos scored first again in the doubleheader with two runs in the top of the third inning before Ball State caught fire with nine runs on five hits in the bottom of the third. Bevis and senior infielder Adam Tellier both grabbed two RBIs while Peltier, Scheffler, junior outfielder Nick Gregory, graduate student outfielder Andrew Wilhite and junior catcher/first baseman/outfielder Casey Turturici each produced an RBI in the scoring run.
Western Michigan grabbed another run in the top of the fourth before Wilhite made it 10-3 in the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left field, his first of the season. Bevis and Tellier both added another RBI to make it 12-3 heading into the sixth inning.
With the bases loaded, Peltier delivered a walk-off double to clear the bases in the bottom of the seventh, spelling a 15-3 victory for the Cardinals.
Junior Ryan Brown pitched the first 3 2/2 innings, striking out four batters and giving up three earned runs before sophomore pitcher Jacob Hartlaub got the win for the Cardinals in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Striking out four batters and giving up one hit, Hartlaub improves to 2-2 this season.
Ball State faces Purdue Fort Wayne (3-14) March 14 at the Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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