A five-run bottom of the fourth inning by Ball State proved to be
decisive on Friday afternoon, as Bowling Green State University dropped their
Mid-American Conference opener to the Cardinals, 9-5. The game was played at
Ball Diamond. The Falcons outhit the Cardinals, the 11th time in 2014 the
Orange and Brown has outhit an opponent. With the loss, the Falcons drop to
6-13 overall, 0-1 in MAC play. BSU improves to 14-8 on the season, 1-0 in the
Ball State plated three runs in the bottom of the second to grab an early lead, as Falcon starting pitcher Cody Apthorpe struggled with his command early in the inning. After a single to begin the frame, Apthorpe would walk and hit the next two batters to load the bases with nobody out. A sacrifice fly and double by the next two batters would plate three runs, but he would work out of it to minimize the damage to a 3-0 deficit.
The Falcons would come right back in the top half of the third, scoring two runs to get back within a run. After the first two batters were out, Brian Bien would start the rally with a bunt single. Jeremy Shay would single to advance Bien to third, and T.J. Losby's RBI single to right center would plate Bien to get the Falcons on the board. A fourth straight single with two outs, this one by Jake Thomas, would plate Shay and get the Falcons to within 3-2 after the top of the third.
The Cardinals would add to their lead in the bottom of the third with a single run, and then broke open the game with a five-run bottom of the fourth to knock Apthorpe out of the contest.
Jason Link came into the game to relieve Apthorpe, tossing the final 4.1 innings without allowing a run. He struck out five, which is a new career high, surpassing his previous career-best of four strikeouts, which he had done two previous times during his two-plus year career. The 4.1 innings are also a new career high for the right-handed pitcher from Hamilton, Ohio, surpassing his former career-high of 4.0, set last week in a start against Evansville at the Russ Matt Invitational.
Trailing 9-2, the Falcons would attempt to claw back into the game starting in the top of the sixth. Logan Walker would kick start the rally in the top of the frame, doubling to center with one out. The next batter, Brandon Howard, would single him home. After Greg Basalyga was hit by a pitch, Ball State would turn to the bullpen, and it would pay off as the Falcons left the bases loaded in the inning.
Losby and Jake Thomas—who led the Orange and Brown with three hits on Friday—would single with nobody out to begin the top of the seventh. With one out, Walker would double for the second time in the game, scoring both to get the Falcons to within four, at 9-5.
The Falcons would get three runners on base over the final two innings, but would not scratch across anymore runs. Zach Plesac, projected weekend starter for Ball State, got the save on Friday, coming into the game in the top of the ninth to record the final out of the game.
T.J. Weir got the win for the Cardinals, improving his record to 2-1 on the season. Apthorpe was tagged with the loss, dropping to 1-5 on the year. He allowed nine runs on Friday, but two Falcon errors would lead to five of them being unearned in the game.
The Falcons and Cardinals will conclue their series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 12:00 p.m. Mike Frank is expected to start the first game, while Andrew Lacinak will get the ball in the second game for the Falcons.
*Bowling Green outhit Ball State 15-12 in Friday's game. It was the 11th time in 19 games that the Falcons have outhit an opponent in 2014. They are just 5-6 in such games.
*Seven Falcons had multi-hit games on Friday, as Jake Thomas led the way with a 3-for-4 day. The three hits were a season-high for Thomas, who has battled injury throughout the early part of the season.
*Brian Bien went 2-for-4 on Friday to extend his on-base streak to 18 consecutive games.
*The top five batters in the Bowling Green order combined to go 11-for-23 (.478) in Friday's game. Logan Walker and Brandon Howard also had multi-hit games from the sixth and seventh spots in the order.