Teddy Cahill

Sweeping a doubleheader Saturday at Central Michigan University, Ball State University climbed into first place in the Mid-American Conference West Division.

The Cardinals (19-21, 11-4) responded after losing the series opener Friday night with a 3-2 and 5-2 victory. The series win pulls Ball State even with Central Michigan (22-15, 11-4) in the division, but gives the Cardinals the tie-breaker.

In a low-scoring day with the wind blowing in, the Cardinals relied on pitching and defense for the victories.

Game one starter Kolbrin Vitek (2-3) threw six scoreless innings, scattering seven hits for the win. The Cardinals gave the junior three first inning runs, which would be just enough.

The Chippewas rallied in the ninth inning, scoring two runs off reliever Derek Grabner. Closer Aaron Hammons was able to shut the door and pick up his fourth save of the season.

In the night cap, Ball State again struck first. It scored five runs in the first four innings and again held on for victory. Coming off a bad start last week against the University at Buffalo, Cal Bowling (3-3) picked up the victory with six good innings. The sophomore allowed two runs on six hits and did not walk a batter.

After Heath Riley threw two scoreless innings, Hammons again closed out the Chippewas.

First baseman Ian Nielsen was the only Cardinal to drive in multiple runs Saturday, picking up one RBI in both games. The sophomore went 3-for-7 and scored two runs in the doubleheader.

Ball State and Central Michigan are a half game ahead of the University of Toledo (23-15, 10-4). Toledo will attempt to finish a sweep of Northern Illinois University and draw even with the division leaders Sunday.

The Cardinals and Chippewas are idle Sunday after moving the series finale to Saturday because of rain in the forecast.

For full coverage of the weekend series, read Monday's edition of The Ball State Daily News.