Ball State baseball wins fourth consecutive conference series following 2-1 victory over Western Michigan

<p>Senior outfielder Nick Gregory hits the ball against Ohio March 30 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Gregory had three runs in the game. Mya Cataline, DN</p>

Senior outfielder Nick Gregory hits the ball against Ohio March 30 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Gregory had three runs in the game. Mya Cataline, DN

The race for second place in the Mid-American Conference standings just got a lot closer following this weekend’s three-game set between Ball State (25-15, 12-9 MAC) and Western Michigan (21-16, 12-6 MAC) that saw the Cardinals claim the series, 2-1. 

The series saw a pair of high-level pitching performances from two of Ball State’s best, with junior Merritt Beeker and freshman Keegan Johnson both earning their sixth wins of the year in games one and two, respectively. 

“Keegan, Merritt Beeker and Sam Klein really did a great job at shutting them down in the first two games in particular, and to come up with the series victory is definitely a big deal,” head coach Rich Maloney said. 

Despite losing in game three and being unable to capitalize on a series sweep, Maloney is proud to see how far his team has come in conference play since the start of the season. 

“When we were 1-7, the first thing was to put ourselves in a position to be in the playoffs,” Maloney said. “We climbed a heck of a mountain, and we are still climbing, winning series after series for about four weekends in a row.”

Friday - Game One 

Beeker opened the series for Ball State on the mound in game one with six shutout innings. His dominant performance from the mound was backed up by an arguably even more impressive performance from the Cardinals’ on the plate, scoring a series-high 14 runs. 

The offense, which saw nine separate Cardinals record at least one RBI, was led by junior Hunter Dobbins with three RBIs and a home run. 

Senior Will Jacobson received pitching duties for the final three innings and delivered his second save of the season, only allowing one run before the game’s conclusion to secure the Cardinals’ 14-1 victory over the Broncos. 

Saturday - Game Two 

Securing the series win, the Cardinals took game two on the back of their freshman standout pitcher, Johnson. 

Coach Maloney said that his initial goal for Johnson was to see him in the conference pitching rotation, and Johnson delivered, pitching for five innings and allowing just two runs. 

“I’ve had the privilege of coaching a lot of guys who are really good freshmen, and Keegan fits into that category,” Maloney said. “He moved his timeline up a bit by how he has been performing, and he did a nice job against a really good hitting team in Western Michigan.”

On the other side, the Ball State offense was led by a two-run homer from junior Michael Hallquist in the first frame, followed by a three-run sequence in the third with RBIs from sophomores Blake Bevis and Dylan Grego. 

The Cardinals went on to win their second matchup with the Broncos, 6-3.

Sunday - Game Three 

Despite solid outings from Hallquist and senior Nick Gregory, the Ball State batters failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities early against Western Michigan in the two teams’ final matchup. 

“Today we had an opportunity to put them away, and we didn’t do it early,” Maloney said. “They hung around until they eventually took it from us, and it was definitely a little disappointing.” 

Junior Logan Schulfer started the game on the mound for the Cardinals, giving up one run in two innings of work before junior relief pitcher Nate Blain was sent in to replace him. 

Klein, who received the majority of the pitch count with over five innings pitched, gave up seven total runs. 

Ball State’s offense was unable to fire back, only scoring one run through the game's final seven innings. 

“It’s hard to sweep a good team on the road,” Maloney said. “We had a chance, and we just weren’t able to do it.” 

Ball State baseball will head to Indianapolis on April 23 to face off with the Indiana University Hoosiers for a one-game bout at Victory Field.

Contact Nick Shelton with comments via email at or on X @NickS9954


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