Story Courtesy of WMU Media Relations
AKRON, Ohio - Western Michigan hit three home runs in a game for the sixth time in program history to defeat Ball State, 8-4, to advance to the semifinal of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Meredith Whitney and Courtney Rousseau hit two-run and three-run blasts, respectively, in the fourth to give WMU the lead for good. Gracie Barstad also hit her second home run on the first pitch she saw in the sixth inning to cap the scoring for the Broncos.
After Amanda Montalto hit a two-run base hit in the top of the fourth, Allie Carlson led off the home half of the fourth with a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Courtney Burnett pinch ran for Carlson and after Michelle Bendewald flied out to center field, Whitney took BSU's Audra Sanders deep to left field for her fifth home run of the season and 13th of her career. The HR put WMU just one run behind the Cardinals, 4-3. Tara Buchanan followed with an infield single and Gracie Barstad ripped a shot to center field, setting the table for Rousseau.
Rousseau took a first-pitch ball and followed with a foul ball before crushing her third home run of the season over the left field wall to give the Broncos the lead for good, 6-4. Rousseau went 3-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs. Whitney went 2-for-4 with two RBIs with a run scored as well. Defensively, Rousseau gave it her all as well, flying over the wall in foul territory in an attempt to secure an out.
All was quiet for both WMU and Ball State in the fifth inning but that changed in the bottom of the sixth. Lexi Jager, who had a game-changing diving catch in foul territory in the top of the sixth, led off with a base hit. Buchanan popped up to second base for the first out of the inning but Barstad took the first pitch she saw to left field to tack on two insurance runs.
Ball State scored a pair of runs in the top of the second to open up a 2-0 lead but Carlson, with a great piece of base running, helped force one of three Cardinals errors in the bottom of the second to score a run, cutting BSU's lead in half.
Whitney threw 167 pitches in her 13th win of the year and now has thrown 311 pitches over two games thus far in the MAC Tournament. WMU will play either (2) Ohio or (6) Central Michigan in the semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m.