Steven Ward

Despite splitting its home doubleheader with Toledo Friday, Ball State continued to show signs of improvement heading into next season.

Coach Alex Marconi said some of the keys to Ball State's solid play on the day was junior right-hander Cal Bowling and his ability to throw strikes and compete.

"Cal Bowling didn't have his best stuff today, but he competed and threw strikes," Marconi said. "Even when he doesn't have his best stuff, which he does that, and he throws strikes and competes, he's going to get guys out, and he did."

Marconi also said despite Ball State's Game 2 loss to Toledo, he was pleased with the hitting he saw in Game 1.

"The thing I was very pleased with was six of our RBIs were with two outs," he said. "So we got big hits when it mattered. We haven't gotten that all year, but we did in game one, and that's a reason why we won."

In Game 1 of the doubleheader, Ball State was able to continue its recent offensive success. The Cardinals scored eight runs on 12 hits. The result was an 8-3 win over the Rockets.

After holding Toledo scoreless in the top of the first inning, Ball State quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Sophomore right fielder Blake Beemer hit a two-run double to left field that drove in junior center fielder Cody Elliott and and junior third baseman Tim Issler.

After a strikeout by Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week T.J. Baumet and a walk to freshman first baseman Kenny Mahala, freshman left fielder Sean Godfrey hit a two-run triple to right center that drove in Beemer and Mahala.

Ball State made the 5-0 in the bottom of the second inning when Beemer's infield single scored junior second baseman Mitch Widau.

In the top of the third inning, Toledo made the score 5-2 after an RBI single by junior right fielder Jeff Cola and an RBI ground out by junior first baseman Matt Delewski.

The Cardinals scored two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning when Elliott hit a double to right field that scored Godfrey and freshman designated hitter T.J. Weir.

After a scoreless fourth inning, Toledo made the score 7-3 in the top of the fifth when Cola hit a home run to right field.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Ball State scored its final run of the game when Widau scored off of a steal attempt to second base by Beemer.

Bowling picked up his fifth win of the season for the Cardinals. He pitched his fourth complete game of the season, giving up five hits and three runs.

Bowling said the fact Ball State scored four runs in the first inning made him comfortable on the mound.

"We scored four runs in the first inning, and I was pitching comfortably because we were ahead the whole time," Bowling said. "That helped a lot."

In the second game of the doubleheader, however, Ball State struggled to drive in runs in its 2-1 loss.

For the game, Ball State struck out seven times, four of them being with runners on base. They also grounded into two double plays and left six people on base.

Senior right-hander Derek Grabner picked up his sixth loss of the season for the Cardinals. In his 8 1/3 innings of work, Grabner gave up 11 hits and two runs.

Grabner said since it's his last start as a player, he wanted to see how long he could pitch and leave everything on the field.

"I think there was a little buildup of the season knowing it was going to be my last start of my college career," Grabner said. "I really just wanted to see how long I could go and take a mentality out to the mound with me of going after hitters. Today, I had nothing to hold back, so I just went at it."

Ball State will close its season-ending series Saturday, when they play the Toledo Rockets on senior day. First pitch is at 1 p.m.