OXFORD, Ind. -- Tyler Kipke fell a homer short of the cycle and drove in four as the Central Michigan baseball team held on for a 9-6 victory over Ball State at Ball Diamond on Friday in game one of a three-game Mid-American Conference series.
It’s just the second victory in an opening game of a league series for the Chippewas this season, but it comes at a key time in the season. Entering the weekend, the Chippewas sat as the eighth and final playoff seed for next month's conference tournament.
CMU (16-20, 6-7 MAC) instead now moves into second place in the MAC West Division, and sits just a game back of Toledo for the division lead.
Central smacked 10 hits through the first five innings but had just a 2-0 lead to show for it, stranding 10 through the game's first five frames. Kipke's two-run triple in the seventh plated Nate Theunissen and Casey Ingle, who had singled earlier in the inning. A bunt single by Ricky Clark allowed Kipke to score and gave CMU a 5-0 edge entering the bottom of the seventh.
The Cardinals would get to Chippewas' starter Steve Teno in their half of the seventh however, getting a bloop and a blast to cut the lead to 5-2 on the two-run shot by BSU's Jeremy Hazelbaker. A walk would follow and chase Teno (3-4) from the game.
Devan Kline came on in relief and after an errant pickoff throw moved the runner to third, 2008 All-MAC selection Kolbrin Vitek singled up the middle to draw Ball State to within two, 5-3, after seven.
Central would blow the game back open in the eighth, scoring four times. Matt Faiman drew a one-out walk and Theunissen followed with a homerun to left. Cornstubble singled to center and took second on a wild pitch before scoring on Kipke's RBI double, putting the Maroon and Gold ahead 8-3. Back-to-back walks issued to Ricky Clark and Robbie Harman would load the bases, and Billy Anderson was hit by a pitch to force in a run for a 9-3 lead.
In the ninth, the Cardinals made things interesting. A double and single put two aboard with no outs, and Vitek followed with an infield single to make it 9-4 with runners on the corners. After Vitek stole second, a double knocked in two more BSU runs to make it 9-6.
Harvey Martin would come on to relieve Kline, retiring the final two batters of the game for his second save of the season.
Teno picked up the win, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks. The senior lefty struck out nine. Kline was charged for three runs on five hits and a walk in two-plus innings of work.
The victory ended a mini-skid for the Chippewas in league play, having entered the weekend with losses in four of their last six MAC games.
Due to expected poor weather conditions on Sunday, the remaining two games of the weekend have been rescheduled into a doubleheader starting at noon on Saturday. Dan Taylor and Trent Howard are still expected to get the starts in the remaining two games for the Chippewas.