BASEBALL: Bowling pitches Cardinals to victory
Ball State defeats first BCS conference opponent in nearly two years
For the second week in a row, Cal Bowling found himself on the mound in the top of the ninth trying to finish a complete game victory. Last week, Bowling gave up a pair of hits and Ball State went on to lose at UAB. Friday at Missouri, there would be no such problems.
Bowling made sure there would be no ninth-inning comeback for the Tigers, retiring the side in order and finishing a 5-2 win for the Cardinals (2-4). The victory was Ball State's first against a team from a BCS conference since March 20, 2010, when it beat Louisville 5-1 in the second game of a doubleheader.
The complete game was the fifth of Bowling's career and the first of the season. He allowed just five hits and two runs, while striking out seven batters.
After the Cardinals struggled at the plate last weekend, coach Alex Marconi shuffled his lineup slightly Friday night. Senior Tim Issler was replaced at third base by freshman Elbert Devarie, who went 3-for-4 with two runs. As a whole, the lineup produced 13 hits and five runs, both season highs.
After each team scored a pair of runs in the second inning, Kirby Campbell gave Ball State a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning with a leadoff home run to left center. It was the first home run for Campbell since Feb. 25 last season at Southeast Missouri State.
With Bowling continuing to hang zeroes on the scoreboard, Ball State could continue to chip away at Missouri left-hander Eric Anderson. With one out in the seventh, Devarie singled. Wes Winkle followed with a triple to right-center that scored Devarie and chased Anderson from the game. Winkle would score when Mitch Widau bunted him home with a sacrifice.
Devarie and Winkle batted eighth and ninth in the Ball State lineup, but gave Marconi plenty of production. They combined to go 6-for-8 with three runs and two RBI. Winkle also stole two bases.
Bolstered by the two insurance runs, Bowling bore down on the Tigers. He allowed just one base runner after the third inning and retired the final seven batters of the game. Bowling now has more strikeouts (20) than hits allowed (19) in 23 2/3 innings this season.
Ball State and Missouri resume their three-game series Saturday at 3 p.m. Left-hander Nestor Bautista will start for the Cardinals.