As the snow, wind and generally poor weather swirled around Muncie, Indiana over the weekend, it must have seemed colder for the Bobcats.
Each time they put together a good inning, Ball State were either nursing a solid lead or beginning a comeback to keep the Bobcats feeling of earning their first away-conference win even colder.
By the end of Saturday’s game — in which Ohio fought back from seven runs down to get within two, only to lose 8-6 — that win still evaded it as the Cardinals swept Ohio in a three-game series, 2-1, 3-2 and 8-6.
The Cardinals opened all three games hot, as they scored six of the eight runs scored in the first two innings of each game, and went on to hold those leads as Ohio tried to chip away slowly.
Surely the inclement weather didn’t help, as the Bobcats’ bats were cold virtually all weekend, until an offensive onslaught in the late gameSaturday.
But even that five-run outburst came too late, as Ohio was already down 8-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. It would mount a furious four-run comeback in the next inning, utilizing a slew of doubles and singles to put pressure on the Cardinals.
The Bobcats even managed to get within two after Sloan Walker’s sac bunt in the seventh inning, but they couldn’t close the gap when it truly mattered.
That theme ran through the weekend, as Ball State’s hot starts propelled them through much of their games.
That was especially true in the first two games, as Ohio’s repeated attempts to claw back into the game were continually shot down by Ball State’s Nicole Steinbach and her defense.
Steinbach only allowed five batters on base over the weekend while accumulating 15 strikeouts, nine of which came in Friday’s 2-1 win.
While Dorsey has taken home most of the MAC’s pitching plaudits throughout the season, Steinbach shows that the conference is well endowed with pitching talent. This series shows that this resurgent Ohio team still faces some hurdles to claim the postseason honors it desires, lest it be left out in the cold.