Baseball collapses in ninth, split series with Ball State

Orange, Calif. sophomore Justin Simpson slides headfirst into third against Ball State, Saturday, May 8.

With a 7-5 lead in the top of the ninth, Central Michigan appeared poised to claim its third win of the four-game Mid-American Conference series over Ball State.

That was until the road team erupted with three runs off CMU junior Grant Frazer in the ninth inning to hand the Chippewas an 8-7 loss Sunday at Theunissen Stadium.

"It was a good college baseball game," said head coach Jordan Bischel. "Two really good teams that competed awfully hard, and Ball State came up with one more big hit late than we did. It had to be a great game for a fan to watch."

CMU (30-12, 22-5 MAC) splits the series with the Cardinals (29-14, 20-7 MAC) and keeps a one game lead for first place over BSU in the MAC with 12 games to go. 

Key Moments

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, senior Griffin Lockwood-Powell belted a 3-1 pitch to mid center field and freshman Danny Wuestenfeld reached off an error from Cardinals third baseman Justin Conant to apply pressure on pitcher Trennor O’Donell and his 2.50 ERA. Junior Aidan Shepardson smacked the ninth pitch of his at bat down the third base line which rolled to the left field warning track for a two-run double.

Freshman Justin Simpson reached off a single that bit the lip between the infield dirt and outfield grass to set the table for junior Mario Camilletti to score Shepardson via a sacrifice fly that was just short of clearing the center field wall to give the Chippewas a 3-1 lead. 

The Cardinals pulled back within one run after a chopper back to the mound by Ross Messina resulted in a throwing error from pitcher Garrett Navarra, allowing Noah Navarro from third, allowing Messina to take second base. 

The Cardinals opened the fourth inning with three consecutive base hits off Navarra and sophomore Ian Leatherman to tie the game at 3-3 before recording the first out of the inning. BSU’s Adam Tellier ripped a 2-2 pitch down the first base line to add a pair of runs and take a 5-3 lead. 

The Chippewas put runners on the corners behind a Jakob Marsee single and a Zach Gilles walk. Marsee later scored from third base off a wild pitch, which resulted in the Cardinals immediately intentionally walking Lockwood-Powell, but the home team ultimately stranded two runners to end the inning. 

CMU pounced in the sixth, loading the bases for Navarra and drew a 3-0 count, forcing the Cardinals to go to the bullpen. BSU reliever Tyler Ruetschle fired a first pitch strike to force the count to 3-1, but failed to find the strike zone with his next pitch for a bases loaded walk and to tie the game at five.

Three pitches later junior Chase Rollin looped a 1-1 pitch to left center to score Camilletti and Gilles for a 7-5 Chippewa lead. 

After a base hit from Noah Navarro and a Chippewa error, BSU left fielder Nick Powell lasered a hit down the right field line to score two runs. Powell advanced to third off the throw to the plate. The Cardinals took the lead off a sacrifice fly to deep left field with a dazzling catch from Rollin.

CMU was retired in order in the bottom of the ninth to take a series split with the Cardinals. 

Key Contributors

Navarra earned six strikeouts and allowed two earned runs off four hits and one walk in three innings. Leatherman allowed two earned runs off six hits with two strikeouts in four innings. 

Shepardson, Rollin and Marsee combined for six of CMU’s nine hits and four RBIs. 

Tellier, Navvaro and Aaron Simpson combined for nine of Ball State’s 13 hits. 

What’s Next

The Chippewas host Northwood at 3 p.m. Tuesday before traveling to Kalamazoo for a four-game series at Western Michigan at 3 p.m. Friday.