Teddy Cahill

Before boarding the bus for Akron, Ohio, Thursday, Alex Marconi said he was confident in the way Ball State was hitting on the eve of Mid-American Conference play.

Friday, however, Ball State's bats were silenced by Akron right-hander Andrew Brown. The Cardinals managed just three hits against Brown, and the Zips won the conference opener 4-0. The loss was Ball State's sixth in a row and ended its five-year winning streak on MAC Opening Day.

Brown needed 110 pitches to throw the three-hit shutout, the second shutout of his career. No Cardinals reached third base and only twice did Brown allow a runner to reach second. Brown struck out seven hitters to move into eighth place on the Zips' all-time strikeout list.

Ball State, meanwhile, got another good start from ace Cal Bowling. The senior allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out a career-high nine batters.

Akron scored its first run in the fourth inning. Sam Trecaso led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on a double. After a strikeout, Trecaso scored on a groundout by Brandon Winter.

The Zips extended their lead with three runs in the fifth inning. They were aided when third baseman Tim Issler misplayed a pop up with one out in the inning. Akron had already scored one run and had a runner on third when Sam Watkins hit a pop up in short left field, just past the infield grass. Issler stumbled and was unable to catch it, allowing a run to score. Trecaso followed with a triple, which brought home the last run of the game.

Ball State and Akron continue their three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. Right-hander T.J. Weir will start for the Cardinals.