Sophomore Drey Jameson’s efforts on the mound along with senior John Ricotta’s strength at the plate hand Ball State Baseball (22-11, MAC 6-2) a victory over Eastern Michigan (7-26-1, MAC 2-8), 3-2.
Ball State started Jameson on the mound to kick off the weekend series against the Eagles.
The MAC strikeout leader was able to retire eight in seven innings pitched. Four strikeouts came from the first six batters he faced. His final line includes one walk, one earned run and seven hits.
“I struggled a little bit but I trusted the guys behind me,” Jameson said. “I just threw my stuff and let my guys play the game of baseball.”
The first hit against Jameson did not come until the third inning with two outs. Two singles in a row put the Cardinals in a first and third situation. However, Jameson fielded a grounder up the middle to end the top of the third.
Ball State jumped to an early lead by capitalizing on a three walk first inning on offense. A double by Ricotta scored a pair to give the Cardinals the edge right away. The Eagles were unable to find the scoreboard until the fourth inning off of a RBI single.
“Pitching with a lead is great,” Jameson said. “When you get down early in the game, you feel tighter on the mound. That was really huge that John Ricotta got that big hit.”
The Cardinals then went on for five scoreless innings. Of the five scoreless innings, the Cardinals had at least one runner stranded on base. Ricotta’s home run to right field in the seventh ended the streak and extended Ball State’s lead to 3-1.
“Adding another run was huge,” head coach Rich Maloney said. “Any time you can add an insurance run, it shows how valuable the run is towards the end.”
Sophomore Kyle Nicolas came in to relieve Jameson in the eighth to earn his sixth save of the season. Eastern Michigan was able to add a run with no outs in the ninth. However, Nicolas was able to strand a runner on both second and third to end the game.
“It’s nice to win a low-scoring game,” Maloney said. “You have to win some games where you basically out pitch them.”
In a shorter matchup at two and a half hours, the tempo was set by both pitchers throughout the contest.
“Shutdown innings are huge,” Jameson said. “Minimizing runs and executing pitches kept the game moving fast.”
The Cardinals will complete the home series against the Eagles with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at noon.
Contact Drew Pierce with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dpierce3cc