AVON, Ohio -- Miami bolted to a 4-1 lead after two-and-a-half innings, but Ball State scored 12 unanswered runs for a 13-7 victory over the RedHawks in the opening game of the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament at All Pro Freight Stadium. The outcome sends Miami into a loser's bracket game tomorrow at 12:30 against Central Michigan, which lost 15-8 to Kent State Wednesday night.
For the fourth straight game, Miami (25-29) cracked the scoreboard in the first inning. With one out, Jake Romano triple to the gap in right center. The next batter, John Crummy, drove a 2-0 pitch into centerfield, putting the RedHawks up 1-0. They added a run in the second after Chad Sedio led off with a single, took second on a Nate Bowles sacrifice and scored on a ground-rule double by Dan Walsh.
Fourth-seeded Ball State (29-23) struck right back with a run in its second. A leadoff triple and infield single made the score 2-1. Miami added two runs in the top of the fourth on a two-out, single by Walsh, but the Cardinals answered. A hit batter and back-to-back singles accounted for a run, then a single after a double-play cut the margin to 4-3.
After the RedHawks were held scoreless for the first time in the fourth, Ball State took control. The Cardinals scored 10 runs over the next three innings, hitting a trio of two-run home runs. They tallied four in the fourth, two in the fifth and four more in the sixth, before Wynston McMartin pitched a scoreless seventh.
Miami closed the gap with two outs in the ninth when Johnson hit his team-high fifth home run of the year, a three-run shot over the wall in left center,
Fiala (6-6) endured his worst outing of the season, allowing 13 hits and nine runs over 4.1 innings. He did not walk a batter, while striking out three. Scott Baker, the MAC's Pitcher of the Year, settled down after a rocky start to earn his school-record 12th win of the year. He allowed four runs and nine hits before being relieved to start the ninth.
The loss ended a string of two straight years where Miami won its first two tournament games to earn a spot in the bracket final.