Just a week ago, Ball State got beat 29-11 at home against Kent State in the last regular season series. A series where they lost all three games.
Yesterday, Ball State (35-21) beat that same Kent State (41-15) team 6-1 to advance to the Mid-American Conference Championship.
Senior Trennor O’Donnell, who started in the 29-11 loss, went a complete nine innings today to beat the Golden Flashes. It was the first complete game of his career.
“To see him have his moment like that when the team really needed it was just an absolute joy,” head coach Rick Maloney said. “I mean to see him pitch at such a high level, no watch eight strikeouts, against a really great hitting Kent team. It was super impressive but also badly needed to give us a real shot. So we're at least in the best position, you could be in, but we've got to finish and then it's been a long time coming.”
O’Donnell finished the night with eight strikeouts, no walks, and ended his night with his 200th career strikeout.
The fifth inning saw the Cardinals put up four runs, taking a 4-0 lead. Graduate Student Ryan Peltier hit a single to bring in junior Nick Gregory for the first run of the game. Senior Adam Tellier brought in Peltier and sophomore Hunter Dobbins brought in two runs.
Peltier had a great night at-bat, he went 5-4 from the plate with two runners batted in. Gregory went 4-2 from the plate and scored twice for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals would not score again until the ninth inning, where two runs came in making it 6-0 with only three outs needed to send Ball State to the championship game.
After a flyout and a groundout, only one out was needed. After an error, Ball State saw their shutout come to an end as Kent State ran across home plate.
The Kent State rally not enough though as O’Donnell struck out the next batter.
Ball State will either play Kent State or Central Michigan on May 27, at 12:30 p.m.
One thing was clear when talking to Maloney on preparation for Saturday, being a team.
He said they are going to eat breakfast as a team, have lunch delivered and go to practice as a team, have dinner as a team.
“We're gonna eat as a team at breakfast,” Maloney said. “We are going to have lunch delivered, we're gonna go to practice together as a team. We're gonna eat dinner together as a team. It's going to be a team.”
He said the team will be ready Saturday, knowing they are playing for a title. Dreaming they hoist a trophy.