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Enduring back-to-back 3-2 losses during Spring Break at then-No. 12 Coastal Carolina University was difficult for Ball State University to swallow.But after the second loss to the Chanticleers, coach Greg Beals reminded the Cardinals why they play some of the best teams in the country."After the [Coastal Carolina] game, coach said ‘This is going to prepare us in the long run for MAC play,'" reliever Perci Garner said. Ball State will face another highly-ranked opponent this weekend when it travels to No. 10 University of Louisville (15-1). Ball State (5-11) has already played five games on the road against opponents ranked in the top 15. It is 1-4 in those games, scoring a 5-2 upset of the University of Arkansas on Feb. 20. The Cardinals had their chance to add at least another victory against a ranked opponent against the Chanticleers, but were unable to find a way to win either game. Left fielder Kory Benbow said the difference was defense."We didn't have an error all weekend," the senior said. "That's the big thing, against teams like that you're not getting away with one or two errors a game. You've got to play from the first pitch to the last pitch. Any little mistake we make, they're more likely to take advantage of than any MAC school."The three-game series at Louisville is Ball State's last non-conference series of the season. It will start the Mid-American Conference season next weekend at Ohio University."It's going to be a great experience playing Louisville," Beals said. "On paper, they might be the best team we play all year. All this experience against this competition is going to serve us well once we get into the Mid-American Conference."With the more important part of the season coming up, Beals is not taking any injury risks this weekend. Starting pitcher Morgan Coombs will not play this weekend due to elbow tendinitis. "We're going to nurse Morgan a little bit this weekend," Beals said. "I think he could pitch if we absolutely needed him to, but we're going to rest him. If he's ready to go on Friday at Ohio, he'll be the Friday starter."But Ball State is still thinking big. Louisville started the year on a 14-game winning streak, before losing its only game of the season last Saturday at No. 20 University of Mississippi. Benbow said Ball State has plenty of confidence going into the series."I think it'd be real good for us to go down and take two out of three," he said. "I think everyone on the team believes we can do it and I think everyone is going to go in with that attitude."Louisville will be without center fielder Josh Richmond and first baseman Andrew Clark. The pair has missed a combined 17 games with injuries.However, the hosts will still have plenty of firepower. All-American Phil Wunderlich leads the team with 21 RBI and is tied for the team lead with six home runs. Second baseman Adam Duvall also has six home runs and leads the team with a .413 average."They're going to be a great team," Beals said. "Coach McDonald does a great job down there and I have a lot of respect for what they're doing."Ball State has not travelled south to Louisville for a weekend series since 2006, but the two teams have played midweek games the last three years. Ball State lost 5-4 in 12 innings last year. Benbow said the challenge of facing a team like Louisville is much different in a weekend series than in a midweek game."The thing I'm interested in seeing, is how their front-line pitchers are as opposed to their midweek pitching," Benbow said. "I think that's going to be the biggest difference."Garner said having a good weekend in Louisville would be a big boost before heading to Ohio next week."I think if we could get something this weekend it would mean a lot for our confidence," he said. "I look at confidence as being the key to college sports."Ball State at Louisville at Jim Patterson StadiumGame No. 17First pitch: 3 p.m.Pitching matchup: RHP Brad Piatt (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Thomas Royse (3-0, 0.74)Weather: 66 degrees, sunny, southwest nine mphGame No. 18First pitch: 1 p.m.Pitching matchup: RHP Cal Bowling (0-2, 6.25) vs. LHP Dean Kiekhefer (1-1, 4.95)Weather: 62 degrees, cloudy, SSW 10 mphGame No. 19First pitch: 1 p.m.Pitching matchup: RHP Kolbrin Vitek (0-2, 5.71) vs. RHP Tony Zych (1-0, 9.64)Weather: 51 degrees, showers, SSW 10 mph
Hitting sixth in the Ball State University lineup has its advantages, and left fielder Kory Benbow has done his best to take advantage of them.
With the most arduous part of Ball State University's schedule behind it, coach Greg Beals wants to turn the focus to doing the little things better.The Cardinals are 5-11, though have played tough competition in the first month of the season. Over Spring Break they played nine games in 10 days, including a pair of 3-2 losses at No. 12 Coastal Carolina University and lost 7-4 to the College of Charleston, a likely NCAA Tournament team. But Beals and the rest of the team want to turn the narrow defeats into victories, like the 5-2 upset of No. 14 University of Arkansas on the first weekend of the season."We showed signs of playing good baseball against Coastal Carolina," Beals said. "We played solid. Unfortunately we didn't find a way to win. We're playing tough competition, but we're good enough to be competitive. We need to find ways to win."The Cardinals have four games against more quality competition before the Mid-American Conference season begins March 26. Ball State will travel to No. 10 University of Louisville this weekend for a three-game series and visit the University of Notre Dame next Tuesday before attempting to live up to their billing as MAC favorites.Second baseman Kolbrin Vitek said the Cardinals must improve their defense to achieve their goals."Our defense is the biggest thing, making plays every chance you get," the All-American said. Ball State has committed 27 errors this year, leading to 21 unearned runs. Some of the errors have been very costly, especially in losses to Coastal Carolina and the University of Michigan. The Cardinals didn't allow an earned run to the Chanticleers all game on March 7, but still lost 3-2. Ball State made five errors in that loss. Against the Wolverines, the Cardinals tied the game at eight in the top of the sixth inning, only to commit two errors in the bottom of the inning and give up four runs. Ball State went on to lose 12-8 Friday."We need to pay attention to detail a little better," Beals said. "When we're doing all the little things well, I think we'll be OK."Vitek said the team played well in all aspects of the game throughout Spring Break, but needs to be putting together complete games by the time MAC games begin."Now we need to bring everything together and get the kinks worked out," Vitek said. "We need to get all the little things worked out."
It looked like Ball State University's offense was ready to come into its own.
CLEVELAND— Ohio University continued its hot streak Friday night, upsetting archrival Miami University 54-42 to reach the championship game.Ninth-seeded Ohio began their tournament run with a comeback win at Ball State University on Sunday. Now, the Bobcats are the lowest-seeded team to reach the MAC Tournament Championship Game since 2000. In the tournament's first year in Cleveland, No. 9 Miami lost to Ball State 61-58. Ohio has been led by shooting guard Armon Bassett, who scored a game-high 28 Friday. He broke the tournament record for points, reaching 91 in three games. The previous record was 89 points, held by former Eastern Michigan University guard Earl Boykins. "This is really just a continuation of what I've been trying to do all year," Bassett said. "I'm trying to turn it up a couple notches because of where we are and do whatever it takes to get to The Dance."Bassett and the Bobcats are just a win away from their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years. Forward DeVaughn Washington is happy they will get to play the defending-champion University of Akron. The Zips advanced in the tournament with a 66-64 win against Western Michigan University."We're trying to win our first championship in a few years and to be the champ, you should have to beat the champ," the junior said. "Obviously they're a good team, but if we execute the way we're capable of, I think we have a shot."The championship game will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.Kool aid: In the final game of David Kool's career, he scored 39 points in the arena LeBron James calls home, and drew comparisons from Cleveland media to the King himself.But it wasn't enough for Western Michigan, and the last Mid-American Conference West Division team was knocked out of the tournament by Akron. The end of his college career left Kool crying through the postgame press conference. Coach Steve Hawkins said Kool's emotional display didn't compare to the waterworks of the locker room.Kool said he was honored to play at Western Michigan."With our fans up there supporting us, it was all I could ask for and more," he said. "It's something I will cherish in my heart forever."Kool's 39 points are the third most in MAC Tournament history, behind Ron Harper's 45 in 1985 and Carlos Medlock's 42 Thursday.Déjà vu: Forward Chris McKnight scored the game-winning points for Akron on a tip-in with 6.6 seconds left. After the game, he said it felt like the shot he missed at Ball State on Feb. 6.With the Cardinals and Zips tied at 60, McKnight missed a game-winner in the final 30 seconds in Muncie.Coach Keith Dambrot remembered the play well."I said to him in the locker room, ‘Didn't you have one of those you missed earlier this year?'" Dambrot said.Then, as Kool raced up the floor for one final shot, McKnight said his mind went back to the 2007 MAC Tournament Championship Game when Akron was upset by Miami. With 0.6 seconds left on the clock Doug Penno banked in a desperation 3-pointer for the conference title.Kool didn't have Penno's luck however, as his shot clanged off the rim.East dominance: Western Michigan's loss means the tournament final will once again pit two teams from the East Division.The University of Toledo is the last team from the West to reach the MAC Tournament Championship game. Toledo lost 71-66 to Kent State University. A West Division team has not won the MAC since 2004 when the Broncos beat the Golden Flashes 77-66.High expectations: This is the fourth consecutive year that Akron reached the MAC Tournament Championship Game. The Zips won last year's tournament title, after losing the first three. McKnight said he expected another trip to the finals after deep tournament runs throughout his career."Ever since I've been here, we've done that," the senior said. "I wouldn't settle for anything less."
A nine-run sixth inning catapulted Ball State University to a 14-5 victory against Lipscomb University in the Caravelle Resort Classic at Myrtle Beach, S.C.The Cardinals (5-10) sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth to retake the lead for good from Bison (5-10). Reliever Scott Brothers, Jr. (1-0) was the beneficiary of the support, earning his first victory of the year. Starting pitcher Davey Hackett (1-2) allowed nine runs on 12 hits to take the loss.Three Cardinals had two RBI in the sixth inning, including third baseman Stephen Claypool whose double gave them a 6-5 lead.Ball State scored the first four runs of the game, but starting pitcher Morgan Coombs was unable to hold the lead. First baseman Ryan Wilkins tied the game in the fifth inning with a grand slam off Coombs. The Bison took the lead on a passed ball in the top of the sixth.But Brothers contained Lipscomb for the rest of the game. The senior threw four shutout innings, allowing only five hits. Claypool and second baseman Kolbrin Vitek both went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Left fielder Kory Benbow added his third home run of the year, driving in two runs.
Fighting out of an eight-run hole after the first three innings, Ball State University had nothing left in the tank to respond to a late push by the University of Michigan.The Wolverines scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth and held on for a 12-8 victory Friday at Myrtle Beach, S.C. in the Caravelle Resort Classic. Relievers Michael Sandman (0-1) and Heath Riley allowed the final four runs, and Sandman took the loss. Brandon Sinnery (1-0) pitched the final four scoreless innings for the Wolverines, earning the victory.Michigan jumped on starting pitcher Cal Bowling for nine hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. Only four of the runs were earned. The Cardinals committed four errors in the game, leading to seven unearned runs.Ball State got back into the game with six runs in the fifth inning. The Cardinals batted around, and second baseman Kolbrin Vitek had a two-run single. After knocking out starting pitcher Matt Miller, the Cardinals scored two runs in the sixth to tie the game against reliever Matt Gerbe. Left fielder Kory Benbow drove in Vitek and right fielder Ryan Chenoweth with a two-RBI single.Michigan wasted little time in retaking the lead. The Wolverines loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth and back-to-back errors allowed them to score four runs. Neither team could scratch out a run in the final three innings, though Ball State stranded five runners in that span.Vitek led the Cardinals offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs. Third baseman Stephen Claypool also had three hits and one RBI.The Cardinals have lost four in a row to Big Ten schools, after starting last year 3-0 against the conference. Ball State will get another shot at the Big Ten on Sunday against the University of Illinois.
For the third consecutive day Ball State University was unable to shut the door at the end of the game, but the Cardinals came back for the win Tuesday night.Ball State (4-8) defeated the University of North Carolina-Wilmington 7-6 in 11 innings. The previous two days against No. 12 Coastal Carolina University, Ball State held leads late in the game, but ended up with a pair of losses.Shortstop T.J. Baumet made sure that wouldn't happen against the Seahawks, driving in center fielder Wes Winkle for the winning run. Closer Aaron Hammons finished the game to earn his first save of the year, after battling injury throughout the first three weeks.The Cardinals took a 6-2 lead in the ninth inning, but couldn't hold it. Reliever Seth Hobbs blew his second save of the year, but was able to keep the game tied in extra innings. Hobbs became the pitcher of record after Baumet's RBI and earned his second win of the year as well.Baumet went 3-for-5 to lead Ball State. The only other Cardinal with multiple hits in the game was second baseman Mitch Widau, who had two.
Unable to recover from a first-inning deficit, Ball State University lost 7-4 to the College of Charleston on Thursday night in Mount Pleasant, S.C.The Cougars (11-3) a quick 2-0 lead against the Cardinals (4-9) and never relinquished their lead. Starting pitcher Derek Grabner (0-1) took the loss for Ball State after giving up five runs in three innings. Matt Pegler (1-0) earned the victory for Charleston. Ball State scored its first runs in the fifth inning. Kory Benbow drove in the Cardinals' first run with a triple and Stephen Claypool and T.J. Baumet also added RBI. Benbow scored his second run of the game in the seventh inning to cut the gap to 5-4, but Ball State could get no closer. The Patriots added two more runs in the bottom of the inning against reliever Jon Cisna.Benbow went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Blake Beemer also had two hits for the Cardinals, going 2-for-3 with a run. The game completes a stretch of six consecutive games for Ball State on their Spring Break trip. The Cardinals will take Thursday off before beginning the Caravelle Resort Classic against the University of Michigan on Friday.
Unable to pull out a close game for the second day at No. 12 Coastal Carolina University, Ball State University is forced to be content with knowing it can play with the top teams in the country.
Overcoming a five-run deficit, Ball State University halted its four-game slide with a 10-6 defeat of the University of Albany on Saturday.The Cardinals (3-6) fell behind 6-1 in the second inning, as starting pitcher Scott Brothers delivered the worst start of the season for Ball State. The senior lasted just 1 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits. But freshmen Jon Cisna and Michael Sandman combined for 7 2/3 shutout innings, and Ball State's offense rallied for nine runs.Saturday was just Brothers' second start for Ball State, but followed a great outing last weekend. The right-hander allowed five hits in the second inning before he was replaced by Cisna.The Cardinals tied the game with four runs in the fifth and took the lead on a sacrifice fly from second baseman Kolbrin Vitek in the seventh.Vitek drove in two runs, despite not having a hit against the Great Danes. Ball State was led offensively by left fielder Kory Benbow, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs. Shortstop T.J. Baumet also had three hits and three RBI.Cisna earned his first collegiate win and Sandman picked up his first save. The two combined to allow only three hits and tallied six strikeouts. Also, no Ball State pitcher allowed a walk or hit a batter, something that had been a problem in the first two weeks of the season.Ball State will continue the Caravelle Resort Invitational with a game against No. 13 Coastal Carolina University today.
Ball State University lost its fourth straight game Friday, falling 8-5 to the University of Pittsburgh at the Caravelle Resort Invitational in Conway, S.C.Starting pitcher Cal Bowling (0-2) allowed five runs in five innings for the loss. Junior Corey Baker started the game for the Panthers and allowed four runs in six innings, picking up his third victory of the season. Reliever J.R. Leonardi earned the save, pitching the final three innings of the game for the Panthers.The Cardinals (2-6) failed to take advantage of their opportunities, stranding 11 runners. Catcher Zach Dygert led Ball State, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBi.Ball State will continue the tournament Saturday against the University at Albany at 7 p.m.
Greg Beals will give the Ball State University rotation a shakeup this weekend at the Caravelle Resort Invitational hosted by Coastal Carolina University this weekend.Brad Piatt, who has been the Friday starter this year, will not pitch until Tuesday, and Cal Bowling will move up a spot. Joining the rotation will be seniors Morgan Coombs and Scott Brothers, Jr. Beals said with Ball State playing nine games in 10 days during Spring Break, he wants to play more matchups. Piatt will start Tuesday at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and then again next weekend."This will allow Piatt to put more time and effort in his bullpen sessions this week," Beals said. "We have nine games in 10 days, all the guys will have to give us quality innings."Piatt has not pitched well in his two starts this season. He is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in 6 2/3 innings against the University of Arkansas and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Coombs and Brothers are typically relievers, but Brothers started last weekend at UAB and threw six innings, allowing two runs. Coombs has a victory and a save this season, and leads the Cardinals in innings pitched with nine.Beals hopes Spring Break can provide some clarity to his club, which is 2-5 on the young season."We want to come to some conclusion as to where we're at," he said. Ball State's toughest test of the trip will come against No. 13 Coastal Carolina (5-1) on Sunday and Monday. The Chanticleers have become the gold standard for mid-major baseball programs."I have a lot of respect for what they're doing down there," Beals said. "They play a good, clean game of baseball. They're really well disciplined."Ball State has played Coastal Carolina five times since Beals became head coach at Ball State in 2003. They recently played in 2008, in a trip that right fielder Ryan Chenoweth enjoyed."From what I've seen, they've changed a lot of things down there," the senior said. "I'm excited to see what they've been able to do."Before the Cardinals get to take on the Chanticleers, however, they will play the University of Pittsburgh (5-1) and the University at Albany (0-3). First baseman Ian Nielsen thinks playing different teams in a weekend forces players to focus more."It keeps you more focused on the details of the game," he said. "When you're playing a new team, you're really looking for details."Chenoweth said he likes playing different teams during a weekend."You get to see teams from different conferences," he said. "You're seeing different parts of the country, different styles of play."However, with Spring Break upon Ball State, all the Cardinals really care about is getting a chance to play."I'm just looking forward to getting away and playing a lot of ball," Chenoweth said.
Ball State University second baseman Kolbrin Vitek was named Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week for the second straight week Tuesday.The junior hit .389 with three home runs in a four game series at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Vitek also slugged .944 and scored six runs. In the Cardinals' win Friday, Vitek went 3-for-5 and finished a triple short of the cycle. Vitek has won both Player of the Week award given out this year. The preseason All-American also won the award once last year and has also been MAC West Pitcher of the Week twice in his career.
Thrust into the eighth inning of a tie ballgame on the road, right-hander Seth Hobbs didn't disappoint his Ball State University teammates and coaches.
The weekend started well for Ball State University and its bullpen.Right-handers Perci Garner, Seth Hobbs and Morgan Coombs combined for 5 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just one run. The strong pitching allowed Ball State to defeat the University of Alabama at Birmingham 9-5 Friday night.After that win, however, the Cardinals bullpen struggled and Ball State (2-5) lost the final three games of the series. Ball State got solid starts from Cal Bowling, Scott Brothers Jr. and Kolbrin Vitek, but all three came away without a victory. In the final three games, nine relievers combined to go 0-2 with three blown saves, a 9.75 ERA and 17 walks in 12 innings of work. "I thought the pitching staff as a whole was good," coach Greg Beals said. "We got three great starts. We just had some lapses in the bullpen that cost us two games. In the third and fourth games, we had good leads and were playing good baseball, and the bullpen couldn't hold it."The Cardinals lost 6-0 in game one of Saturday's doubleheader and dropped the nightcap 10-9 in 12 innings. Sunday, UAB (3-2) came from behind to win 6-5.Ball State's bullpen was stretched by the doubleheader Saturday. The Cardinals were without closer Aaron Hammons for the second weekend in a row to open the season. Hammons' injury forced coach Greg Beals to use different pitchers at the end of games."It would have helped having Hammons," he said. "But we just didn't have a couple young men come in and perform. It wasn't the pitching staff as a whole and it wasn't the bullpen as a whole."Vitek said his teammates simply need to be ready when called upon."We just reminded them that they need to come in and do their jobs," the junior said. "They need to throw strikes. That's their job."Beals was able to take lots of positives out of the weekend because of strong performance in other areas of the club. Except for being shutout in the first game Saturday, Ball State scored enough runs to win and its starting pitchers kept them in every game.Vitek, a preseason All-American, stood out again. He hit two home runs and drove in four runs against UAB. Vitek is hitting .438 and slugging .844 through the first seven games."I've just been keeping up the same swing I've been working on all winter long and taking it to the plate in games," he said.Learning from the series loss is important, Beals said. Ball State will play nine games in its Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and it needs to be ready."We've seen what those guys can do," Beals said. "Now [the coaching staff] needs to make better decisions in the future with what we've learned."
The bullpen heroics of Friday faded into the setting sun Saturday, as Ball State University blew not one, but two save opportunities in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Scoring five runs in the final two innings, Ball State University spoiled the University of Alabama at Birmingham's home opener with a 9-5 win Friday night.
Stymied by UAB starting pitcher Beau Pender, Ball State dropped the first game of Saturday's doubleheader 6-0.The Cardinals (2-3) were held to just three hits by Pender (1-0) and reliever Nick Graffeo. The Blazers (1-2) scored a run in the first inning, which proved to be all they would need. The victory was UAB's first of the year.After allowing the run in the first, Ball State starter Cal Bowling (0-1) settled down and retired nine batters in a row. However, he ran into trouble again in the fifth inning when a two-out walk to second baseman Nick Crawford proved costly.The Blazers put the game out of reach with three runs in the seventh inning off reliever Morgan Coombs, who earned the save Friday night. But the Cardinals' lack of offense largely made the insurance runs unnecessary. Pender kept Ball State off balance for seven innings, striking out nine. Right fielder Ryan Chenoweth was the only Cardinal to reach third base all game. He doubled to lead off the fourth inning and advanced to third on a balk. However, Pender struck out first baseman Ian Nielsen and left fielder Kory Benbow to end the Ball State threat.All-American second baseman Kolbrin Vitek was held hitless for the first time all year. The junior went 0-for-4, and did not hit the ball out of the infield. Continue to check bsudailynews.com for updates throughout the second game of the doubleheader and read Sunday's issue of The Ball State Daily News online for full coverage of the action.
If opening weekend was about playing nationally-ranked competition in an NCAA Tournament venue for Ball State University, then its four-game series at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is about winning games.Ball State won once in their three-game series at then-No. 15 University of Arkansas last weekend, which pleased coach Greg Beals. But now, Beals and the rest of the Cardinals expect more against the Blazers."This weekend is about us playing good baseball," he said. "It's not going to be our first weekend out. Winning that game at Arkansas was nice, but we need to play better baseball than we did."The series will be one of the rare times in college baseball where a Northern team will have more games under their belt than the Southern team. UAB has played just once, opening their season with a 6-5 loss at Mississippi State University.Blazers coach Brian Schoop said their schedule was already set when the NCAA added a 14th week to the season."We would have had to cancel some games to add another weekend series, and we didn't want to do that," he said. Neither Schoop or Beals expects Ball State's extra two games to play a difference in the series. UAB has been able to practice outside throughout the preseason, while Ball State can only hope to get outside sometime after Spring Break."They've been out on the grass, out on the dirt," Beals said. "I don't really feel like we'll be ahead of them." But after getting outside for the first time all year in Arkansas, the Cardinals were able to find some aspects of their game to work on."We worked on keeping runners close to second base, as well as baserunning," outfielder Kirby Campbell said. "Just little things that once you get outside you can see that you can't necessarily see inside."Beals said he expects his pitchers to throw more strikes at UAB. The Cardinals issued 16 walks and hit nine batters during the series. The pitch counts of the starting pitchers will also go up. Last weekend, no starter threw more than four innings.Starters extending their outings will be especially important Saturday when Ball State and UAB play a doubleheader. Ball State will added senior Scott Brothers Jr. to the rotation for the doubleheader."Scott had a great fall and a great offseason," Beals said. "It's more of a situation where its a reward, where he deserves the next nod."Brothers was used exclusively as a reliever last year after transferring from Gulf Coast Community College. He appeared in 16 games and had an ERA of 3.86.While UAB is not at the same level of Arkansas, Ball State will not be taking them lightly. Beals said the Blazers remind him of his own team."They're a solid team that forces you to beat them," Beals said. "They're not going to make a lot of mistakes."