Ball State first baseman Cody Campbell hit a three-run home run to “The Porch” to give Ball State an early 3-0 lead. Tennessee replied with two runs in the bottom half of the 1st, another in the second, and four more capped by two RBI doubles from Ethan Bennett and Jared Allen. The Vols (9-3) ultimately won 9-7 over the Cardinals (2-7).
Drew Steckenrider was the hero on the day, along with a two run shot in the 6th, he scored three runs, and added two innings of relief on the mound, striking out 5 batters. The Vols racked up 13 hits on the night including 4 players recording multi-hit games (Steckenrider, Pierce, Bennett and Allen).
“I sure would love to see that Drew Steckenrider each and every time because that was pretty special,” Dave Serrano said.
Steckenrider and Pierce are tied for most multi-hit games on the season with five each.
The Cardinals gave the Vols a sweat in the 9th inning. Nursing a 9-6 lead, Tennessee closer Nick Williams came onto finish the game, without an out, Williams allowed a run and then found the bases loaded. Williams struck out the next two hitters and retired the third when Will Maddox made a diving play to get the final out.
Freshman Robbie Kidd got the win after coming in relief for 2.2 innings and not allowing a run, striking out two.
Ball State cut the lead to one in the top of the 4th after Tennessee began to struggle on the mound, walking two, and allowing a run to score on a wild pitch.
The Vols answer came in the bottom of the sixth when Drew Steckenrider hit a two run homer to deep left center.
“The game came down to a ball stung, and I said it to the coach when I shook his hand that those guys played hard,” Serrano said. “They didn’t come in with a great record but I had told the team before the game that teams come in here and want a piece of you. It makes their season to come into an arena like this and play well, but [Will] Maddox saved our life with a play like that at the end of the game.”
Serrano, with the win, is now 2 wins away from 300.
Tennessee will be back in action for a three game series with Louisiana-Monroe in Lindsey Nelson Stadium starting Friday night at 6 pm.