BASEBALL: Ball State wins series
Cards sweep doubleheader as finale gets rained out
What was supposed to be a three-game Mid-American Conference series versus Buffalo turned into a doubleheader Friday due to inclement weather and field conditions.
Nonetheless, Ball State (10-23, 7-4 MAC) swept both games from the Bulls (7-25, 0-11 MAC).
Despite going up against a struggling Buffalo club, coach Alex Marconi said this series was treated like any other conference series.
"It's important to win regardless of who you're playing," Marconi said. "The marks of good teams are teams that go out and play to the level they're capable of regardless [of] whom they're playing. We need to play the best we can every game out."
The Cardinals received superb pitching performances from junior right-hander Cal Bowling and senior left-hander Derek Grabner.
Bowling (4-2) tossed 8 innings and allowed just two earned runs on six hits in game one versus the Bulls. The six-foot-two pitcher was one inning shy of notching his fourth consecutive complete game.
Grabner (1-3) picked up his first victory of the season in game two, working 6 1/3 innings while allowing three earned runs on four hits and striking out seven Buffalo hitters.
As the weather turned bitter, Marconi emphasized the importance of both Bowling and Grabner.
"Our starting pitching has kept us in ball games," Marconi said. "It was another weekend where the weather wasn't very good. Regardless, you've got to come with your A-game every single time and Derek did as well as Cal."
The Cardinals' first three hitters provided an offensive jolt, going a combined 9-for-25 (.360 avg.), with seven RBIs, six runs scored and four stolen bases.
Marconi said without the offensive production from juniors Cody Elliott and Mitch Widau and senior T.J. Baumet, the Cardinals wouldn't be where they're at.
"When those guys are playing well, we can put pressure on teams and get guys in position [to drive them in]," Marconi said.
Though the Cardinals took both games from the Bulls, there were some missed opportunities along the way.
A combined 23 runners were left on base by Ball State. It's something that Marconi said is still improving from the beginning of the season.
"Obviously it's a good thing that we had that many guys on base," Marconi said. "We'd love to be able to drive more of those guys in. We need some big hits and we're starting to get more or them [compared to] early on in the season. Guys are getting more comfortable at the plate and taking better at-bats."