BASEBALL: Ball State gives up six runs in final two innings, loses at Ohio
Cardinals' bullpen struggles without ace
Starting a weekend series without ace right-hander Cal Bowling on the mound for the first time in nearly two years, Ball State found itself a little short on pitching Friday night.
Ball State held a one-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning at Ohio, only to give six runs in the next two innings and lose 6-1. The loss was the fourth straight for the Cardinals (7-24, 3-7).
Right-hander T.J. Weir moved up a day in the rotation to replace Bowling, who is out indefinitely with a broken hand. Weir pitched admirably into the seventh inning, keeping the Bobcats off the scoreboard.
But with two outs in the seventh inning, five straight batters reached base against Weir, chasing him from the game and giving Ohio a 3-1 lead. Coach Alex Marconi turned to right-hander Chris Marangon to get the final out of the seventh, which he did with no problem.
But instead of bringing Marangon, who has become Marconi's go-to pitcher out of the bullpen, back out for the eighth, Ball State went back to the bullpen. The Bobcats added three more in the eighth inning against relievers Jon Cisna and Scott Baker, putting the game out of reach.
The outing was Marangon's shortest of the season. He is expected to start either Saturday or Sunday for the Cardinals, a role he often fills, even after relieving on Fridays. But with Bowling creating a large void in the rotation, Marangon ability to be available to start one of Ball State's next two games may have kept Marconi from leaving him in the game Friday.
Weir allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked two. Before Garrett Black started Ohio's rally with a two-out double in the seventh, Weir had allowed just four hits. Black was a thorn in Weir's side Friday, however, going 3-for-3 out of the last spot in the Bobcats lineup.
Ball State scored its lone run in the fourth inning. Sean Godfrey hit a one-out triple before scoring on Blake Beemer's sacrifice fly.
Other than the one hiccup, left-hander Brent Choban shut Ball State's offense down. He allowed one run on six hits in a complete game effort. Choban allowed only one runner to reach second base in the final five innings, making it difficult for the Cardinals to add any more runs.
Godfrey went 2-for-4 and was the only Ball State hitter with multiple hits against Choban.
Ball State and Ohio will continue their three-game series Saturday at 3 p.m.