Cardinals earn fourth straight Mid-American Conference win

The win marks their fifth in a row overall.

<p>Ball State baseball lifts their hats in the dugout in the air in celebration of a catch during a game against Ohio University March 30 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. The Cardinals won 14-7. Meghan Sawitzke, DN</p>

Ball State baseball lifts their hats in the dugout in the air in celebration of a catch during a game against Ohio University March 30 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. The Cardinals won 14-7. Meghan Sawitzke, DN

Editors note: This story has been updated to include quotes from head coach Rich Maloney.

In a Mid-American Conference (MAC) weekend series against Ohio, Ball State scored 33 home runs and only allowed 16 across three games played. This marks the first time this season in the MAC that any team has completed a three-game series sweep. 

In the first game of the series on Thursday night, Ball State overcame a 6-2 Ohio lead in the eighth inning, putting them on top 7-6. 

"Thursday was huge. The come back kind of catapulted us in a positive way to win this, you know, to earn a sweep," head coach Rich Maloney said.

This comeback was led by seniors Decker Scheffler and Michael Hallquist alongside juniors Houston King and Hunter Dobbins. In four at-bats on the day, King had three hits, two scoring with one run and one RBI. 

Friday's game against the Bobcats showcased the familiar talents of Cardinal pitcher junior Merritt Beeker and the offensive capability of Ball State. 

Over the course of nine innings, Ball State would go on to have thirteen hits and accumulate a total of twelve runs on the day. On the day, Ball State only allowed three runs, with Beeker picking up 13 strikeouts in seven innings with just two errors. 

"Merritt Baker when he struck out 13 was marvelous," Maloney said.

Offensively, Hallquist would have two runs and three RBIs on the day while Dobbins also had two runs, but picked up five RBIs. 

Today, Ball State was looking to complete the sweep and succeeded in a similar offensively-charged game.

"Today the bats went really well, obviously," Maloney said.

The Cardinals would go on to score 14 runs, with five of them coming in the first two innings. In the fourth inning onward, they would score the remaining nine runs unanswered.

Scheffler continued his offensive success today with five hits in six at-bats. He was a home run away from the cycle but picked up three runs and three RBIs on the day.

Hallquist followed suit, with four hits, four runs and three RBIs in six at-bats.

Ball State also showed up defensively this weekend, with senior Nick Gregory robbing an Ohio home run, on top of a slew of other hard-to-make-plays in the outfield through some strong winds.

"That play, the rob of a home run over the fence was amazing and you need plays like that if you're going to win," Maloney said. "I think defensively all weekend, I don't know how many errors were made, but maybe two ... that's a real positive because we've got to get back to playing really good defense if we're going to win."

Ball State was kept in the game on the mound by junior Jacob Hartlaub. In four innings pitched he accumulated just three strikeouts but did not allow a run. His successor on the day senior Sam Klein closed the game with three innings pitched and six strikeouts.

Freshman Keegan Johnson opened the game but only pitched for just over an inning after allowing Ohio runs. Maloney said regardless of his performance today, he is more than deserving of his spot in the Cardinals pitching rotation. 

"Last week, he gave us a huge lift to lead or win that last game. He was marvelous and got pitcher of the week and then this week, I mean, that's the life of a young pitcher," Maloney said. "He'll learn from this and I think he'll bounce back really well next week."

Ball State returns this Tuesday, April 2 at 3 p.m. to face Bellarmine on the road. After that, they’ll remain on the road to begin another three-game MAC series against rival Miami of Ohio.

Contact Trinity Rea via email at trinity.rea@bsu.edu or on X @thetrinityrea.

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