MOUNT PLEASANT - Central Michigan extended its season-long winning streak to eight games, claiming game one of its series versus Ball State at Theunissen Stadium, 6-5.
Senior Jon Weaver came on in relief of senior Zach Cooper in the top of the ninth with the Chippewas (26-25, 13-9 MAC) clinging to a two run lead, 6-4, but gave up two singles up the middle, hit a batter and walked in a run to allow the Cardinals (11-34, 6-16 MAC) to pull within one, 6-5.
With the bases still loaded and two outs, Weaver was able to get Blake Beemer to ground into a fielder's choice, forcing Billy Wellman out at second, to secure the win and earn his fifth save of the season.
The Chippewas took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth thanks to three runs on three hits and a Cardinals error. Junior Jordan Dean led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a fielder's choice sac bunt by senior William Arnold and scored when senior Sam Russell reached on the error.
Senior Nate Theunissen recorded his second hit of the game, a single up the middle, to drive in Russell from second and freshman Joe Houlihan followed two batters later with a single of his own to score junior Jordan Adams and give CMU the 6-4 advantage.
Cooper retired the Cardinals in order in the seventh and worked around a double in the top of the eighth to keep the Cardinals at bay and help set up his sixth win of the year.
The two teams battled back in forth from the beginning as CMU jumped out in front in the first frame after senior Tyler Hall led off with a double and scored on RBI groundout by Arnold for a 1-0 CMU lead.
Two errors by the Chippewas in the top of the third allowed the Cardinals to take their first lead of the game, 2-1, before Dean led off the bottom of the third with a solo home run over the left field fence to tie things back up, 2-2.
After single runs by each team in the fourth pushed the game to 3-3, Ball State took its final lead of the game in the top of the fifth in strange fashion.
With one out in the top of the inning, Wellman hit a fly ball to center field where Hall appeared to make a running catch for the second out. The ball dropped from Hall's glove on the exchange, prompting the umpires to call Wellman safe and Hall to attempt to throw the runner out at first base. Hall's throw bounced off the bag and into the visitor's dugout however, resulting in his second error of the play and two bases for Wellman.
Beemer flew out to right field one batter later and Wellman tagged from third, allowing the Cardinals to claim a one-run lead, 4-3.
Cooper finished the game with six strikeouts over eight innings of work, allowing four runs - one earned - on six hits and two walks. T.J. Weir (2-9) suffered the loss for BSU, tossing six innings and giving up six runs - four earned - on eight hits and two walks.
Dean led the way at the plate for CMU, finishing the day 2-for-3 with two runs scored and his solo home run, while Hall went 2-for-5. Theunissen's two hits moved him just 10 shy of the CMU career record, while Houlihan also went 2-for-4.The Chippewas will continue their series versus the Cardinals tomorrow afternoon at 2:05 with junior right-hander Pat Kaminska on the mound.