2/19/11 – Saturday afternoon was the 2nd of 3 meetings between the Owls of Kennesaw State and the Ball State Cardinals to open up the 2011 baseball season. Game 1 ended with a walk-off single that achieved history for Head Coach Mike Sansing: 750 career wins. Would Game 2 give Sansing number 751?
From the start of the game it felt like a good day for the Owls. Senior starting pitcher Bryan Blough got the game started with a quick 3-pitch strikeout of Cardinal shortstop T.J. Baumet. He was then able to get the next two batters to fly out for a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Just as the top of the first was good for Kennesaw State, the bottom of the inning followed suit. The team had no trouble with Ball State left-handed pitcher Derek Grabner. Junior third basemen Aaron Dobbs got things started for the Owls by being hit by a pitch and taking a trip to first base. Two batters later designated hitter Ronnie Freeman was able to single, moving Dobbs to second base. Next batter Andy Chriscaden hit a double which scored both Dobbs and Freeman to give the KSU a quick 2-0 lead.
The bats came alive for the Cardinals just 3 innings later in the top of the fourth. They were able to take advantage of 5 hits, 2 errors, a walk and a hit batter to take a 6-2 lead. Ball state kept that lead until the 6th inning when they extended it by scoring three more runs for a seven run lead over the Owls.
Being down 9-2 heading into the bottom of the 6th inning is a tough spot to be in. When asked what the demeanor was like in the dugout looking at a seven-run deficit, with a smile on his face, redshirt Sophomore Peyton Hart , said “It was quiet. It was really quiet.” He also mentioned that Senior teammate Bucky Smith had a message for the team. “He told everybody ‘There’s a lot of baseball left’ and we fought. I guess that was kind of our turning point.” Turns out, Smith was right. There was plenty of baseball left for the Owls.
Kennesaw State capitalized on 4 errors in the inning and was able to score twelve runs in the single inning taking the back the lead right out from under the feet of the Ball State team.
Although the Cardinals were not able to score another run in the game, KSU scored three more runs and extended their lead to 17-9 in the 7th inning. That proved to be the final score.
About being down 9-2 more than halfway through the game Coach Sansing gave the coaches point of view, “You’re just trying to get a big inning yourself. We were able to put together walks and Will Howard put down a sac [bunt] and we were able to score from that but we’re just trying to look for a big inning.”
Coach Sansing about his team: “The group is a high energy group. There are some guys in here that are bouncing around. They’re just moving around the whole time. It’s a good group of guys to be around. They make you enjoy it every day.”
After having a 2 for 3 day in which he had 5 RBI’s, Peyton Hart had this to say about playing for his coach and being a part of 751 wins,“I think it’s awesome for Coach Sansing. I’m not real sure how many years he’s been coaching but that’s a lot of wins! It’s an honor to play for him and to play under him.”