Toledo suffered an 8-4 loss to Ball State in Sunday's Mid-American Conference series finale at overcast Scott Park. With the setback, the Rockets fall to 13-20 overall, 5-7 in the league.
The Cardinals (24-12, 9-2 MAC) jumped out to an early lead and held on to win today's rubber match and in the process secured the series against their division rival.
UT freshman LHP Steven Calhoun (1-2) shouldered the loss, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with six strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work.
Offensively, sophomore 1B Tyler Baar (3-for-4, RS, RBI) posted a season-tying best three hits, while junior 3B Dan Zuchowski (2-for-5) also tallied two hits in the loss. Zuchowski posted multi-hit efforts in all three contests this weekend, batting .538 (7-for-13) with four runs scored and seven RBI.
Ball State RHP Zach Plesac (7-2) went the distance to earn his league-best seventh victory, giving up four runs (all earned) on 10 hits with seven punchouts.
The Cardinals pounded out 13 hits against a quartet of UT hurlers, including two each from 2B Ryan Spaulding (2-for-3, 2 RS, RBI), C Jarrett Rindfleish (2-for-2, RS, RBI), 1B T.J. Weir (2-for-3, RS) and 3B Sean Kennedy (2-for-2, RS, RBI).
For a second-straight day, BSU raced out to an early lead on a pair of solo home runs by Spaulding and Rindfleish in its first at-bat. Both players turned on inside pitches from UT's Calhoun and hit the ball over the wall in left-center field to give the visitors an advantage they would not give up.
Ball State added to its cushion with a two-run single off the bat of LF Brandon Estep (1-for-2, 2 RBI) in the top of the fourth. Estep laced a 1-2 pitch from Calhoun up the middle to make it a four-run difference.
Toledo retaliated with two runs of its own in the bottom to fourth to cut the deficit in half, 4-2. The home team took advantage of a RBI double by Baar and a run-scoring single off the bat of freshman LF Jordan Kesson (1-for-3, RBI). The Rockets damage could have been a lot more substantial as they had runners at the corners with no outs, but BSU's Plesac recorded a pair of punchouts and an infield line out to keep it to a two-run game.
The Cardinals then extended their margin with an unearned run in the fifth to push the score to 5-2. With a runner on first base, UT's Calhoun had a failed pick-off attempt and allowed BSU CF Sean Godfrey (0-for-5, RS) to circle the bases and register his team's fifth tally, ending the afternoon for the southpaw hurler.
In the top of the eight, BSU's Caleb Stayton (1-for-1, RS, 2 RBI) drilled a two-run pinch-hit home run. After failing to put down a bunt on two occasions, Stayton belted a two-strike offering from UT senior RHP Adam Tyson over the fence down the right-field line to create a five-run margin, 7-2.
Toledo responded, though, with a solo round tripper by senior C James Miglin (1-for-3, 2 RS, RBI and a pinch-hit single from freshman Jacob Britt (1-for-1, RBI) in the bottom of the eighth. Miglin unloaded on the first pitch from BSU's Plesac and knocked it over the wall in left-center field to collect his second round tripper of the spring.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, Ball state put the finishes touches on the four-run road victory with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Kennedy in the ninth to make the final difference 8-4.
UT will now host Valparaiso on Tuesday, April 15 and Notre Dame on Wednesday, April 16. Tuesday's first pitch against the Crusaders is slated for 3:05 p.m. at Scott Park, while Wednesday's matchup versus the Fighting Irish will begin at 7:05 p.m. at Mercy Field.