Senior right-handed pitcher BJ Butler worked himself into a tight spot.
With Ball State baseball (16-18, 4-6 MAC) holding a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning, Butler hit Bowling Green State senior designated hitter Greg Basalyga with a pitch and walked junior second baseman Derek Drewes to put runners on first and second with no outs.
After a mound visit from head coach Rich Maloney, however, Butler got Falcons junior catcher Justin Mott to pop out to left and struck out sophomore right fielder Jeff Scott.
Senior shortstop Nick Glanzman stepped in with two outs, but quickly fell behind 0-2. He made contact with Butler's pitch, but it was a weak dribbler back to the mound.
The Cardinals went on to win 7-4, pushing their winning streak to five games.
Ball State statistics
W — BJ Butler (4-4, 2.74 ERA)
S — T.J. Baker (3-1, 3 saves, 2.66 ERA)
Bowling Green State statistics
L — Tyler Anderson (2-6, 3.17 ERA)
"It's something I'm used to, coming into those situations," Butler said. "Except this time, I produced my own jam."
Butler was first-team All-Mid-American Conference as a reliever last season, finishing tied for second in the conference with nine saves. This season he's been the Cardinals' No. 1 starter, posting a 4-4 record with a 2.74 ERA.
"No doubt [Butler's] experience helped him because a lot of other guys would've buckled there," Maloney said.
Ball State's fielders gave Butler some early help against Bowling Green State — in the top of the second, junior shortstop Seth Freed made a diving stop in the hole and gunned it to first base to throw out junior first baseman Randy Righter. Senior centerfielder Matt Eppers followed with a diving catch to rob Basalyga of a base hit in the next at-bat.
In the bottom of the third, junior right fielder Jeff Riedel hit a one-out single, but sophomore left fielder Roman Baisa hit a ground ball that looked like it could go for an inning-ending double-play.
Glanzman ranged to his left and scooped up the ground ball. He reached down to tag Riedel before throwing to first, but Riedel's momentum knocked the ball out of Glanzman's glove. Both Riedel and Baisa were safe on the fielder's choice.
Riedel scored on an error by Falcons third baseman Cam Daugherty and Baisa scored on a fielder's choice when.
Bowling Green State scored one run in the top of the fourth and two in the top of the fifth, however, to go ahead 3-2, but Ball State retook the lead on a pair of RBI singles from senior first baseman Caleb Stayton and senior second baseman Sean Kennedy in the bottom of the fifth.
The Cardinals added another run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI bunt single from Riedel and two more in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI double by Eppers and an RBI sacrifice bunt from Riedel.
The Falcons scored on a pinch-hit home run by sophomore R.J. Williams in the top of the ninth to make it 7-4. After the home run, sophomore T.J. Baker (1-0, 2.66 ERA) replaced Butler on the mound and earned his third save of the season.
Butler was credited with the win after striking out seven, walking one and allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned) in eight innings. Bowling Green State junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson was credited with the loss after allowing five runs (three earned) in 5.1 innings.
With 12 hits against the Falcons, the Cardinals are now 10-0 this season when they record 10 or more hits.
"I think everybody's confidence level is rising and returning back to levels that it was earlier in the season," Maloney said. "We're still climbing a mountain, obviously we dug ourselves a bit of a hole, but I'm really proud of the guys and the way they're fighting back."
The Cardinals and Falcons finish the series Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader starting at noon.