In the first-ever meeting between the schools, the Cardinals (2-7) jumped out on top with a three-run home run in the top of the first inning by Cody Campbell.
The Volunteers (9-3) bounced right back as Zach Luther singled and later scored on a balk. Chris Fritts tripled home Drew Steckenrider with two down to make it 3-2. Tennessee catcher Ethan Bennett doubled and eventually scored on Zach Osborne's opposite-field single to knot the contest at 3-all in the bottom of the second.
The Big Orange took the lead for good in the next frame with hits by Steckenrider, Bennett, Chris Pierce and Jared Allen highlighting a four-run third.
A triple by Ball State's Elbert Devarie brought home their second of three runs in the fourth.
Vol pitchers Carter Watson and T.J. Thornton were touched up a bit for a total of six runs on six hits and four walks. However, teammates Steckenrider and Robbie Kidd picked up the slack, twirling a combined 4 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Nick Williams got out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth for his third save. Will Maddox sealed the win by making a sliding stop on a ground ball to the 3-hole and throwing to first for the final out.
Steckenrider scored three times and had a pair of knocks, including his third home run. Allen and Bennett finished with two doubles each. Pierce doubled and singled.
The Volunteers won their first seven games of 2012 before dropping 3 of 4. This victory gives the club some slight momentum heading into a home weekend series versus Louisiana-Monroe.
Zack Godley is scheduled to toss out the first pitch for UT in the series opener on Friday afternoon at 4.
Tennessee coach Dave Serrano moved to within two wins of 300 career victories. To see what the first-year Vol head man had to say about toppling Ball State, click play on the video below: