OXFORD, Ohio -- John Crummy broke a 4-4 fifth-inning tie with a two-out single and Alex Johnson followed with an RBI double, lifting Miami to a 6-5 victory in the rubber game of a Mid-American Conference baseball series Sunday afternoon at McKie Field.
Ball State (17-19, 6-9) took a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out hit, stolen base and RBI single, but Miami answered in the bottom of the frame. Matt Honchel doubled to lead off before Nate Bowles singled through the left side. A double-play grounder scored Honchel.
The RedHawks tallied three runs in the second for a 4-1 lead. A leadoff walk to Alex Johnson and single by Jake Romano started the rally. After a failed sacrifice attempt, Dan Walsh delivered an RBI single to left. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third, then another wild pitch on a third strike sent Ryan Elble to first and brought Romano home. Honchel flied out to left for a sacrifice fly that plated Walsh.
But the Cardinals chipped away. Consecutive walks to start the fourth set up a one-out RBI single, while a sacrifice fly later in the inning made the score 4-3 and chased Miami starter Seth Varner. Clay Cinnamon hit a pair of batters and walked one to load the bases with one out before getting an infield pop for the second out. Shane Kriss came in from the pen and got out of the jam, but not before a wild pitch brought home the tying run.
It didn't take long for Miami to move back ahead. Honchel started the RedHawk fifth with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After two strikeouts, Crummy hit a bouncer toward first that took an awkward hop for an RBI single. Johnson hit a 1-2 pitch to the gap in left center to bring home Crummy, making the score 6-4.
Ball State loaded the bases in both the sixth and seventh, but couldn't scratch out a run. Nathan Williams walked the first two batters he faced, but got a strikeout for the first out in the sixth. When his next pitch was a ball, Head Coach Dan Simonds went back to the bullpen, calling on Klenke. The senior, who switched from infielder to pitcher in the fall, got a fielder's choice grounder before walking the bases loaded. He buckled down, though, and got a swinging strikeout to end the threat.
One inning later, Klenke started with another strikeout before a pinch-hit single. After the second out, another single and walk loaded the bases. The Cardinals' No. 2 hitter came to the plate and hit a hot shot back to the mound, where Klenke made the snag, ran toward first and tossed underhanded to Kevin Bower for the third out.
The Cardinals did close the gap off closer Ryan Powers in the eighth as Miami traded a run for a double play. An error to start the ninth put the tying run on base, but after a sacrifice, Powers got a called third strike and a pop to short for his fourth save.
Each team had nine hits, but Miami's pitchers walked seven and hit a pair. However, Ball State left 14 runners on base, including eight over the fifth, sixth and seventh innings combined. Klenke gave up two hits and two walks over 1.2 innings pitched after throwing four scheduled innings against Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday.
Ball State starter Chris Marango (1-3) took the loss, allowing six runs and six hits over 4.2 innings.
Miami steps out of conference this week for a home-and-home series with Dayton. The RedHawks travel to Time-Warner Cable Field on Tuesday before hosting the Flyers at McKie Field on Wednesday.