BASEBALL: Cardinals cling to 7-6 win over Miami in game one
Ball State opens weekend to beat RedHawks in first of three games
In a game that featured a combined 24 hits, 13 runs and a trio of errors, it was Ball State who had the last laugh.
Thanks in large part to timely hitting, a horrendous defensive performance by Miami and a noteworthy outing from senior Cal Bowling, Ball State (6-20, 2-5) clung to a 7-6 victory, claiming the first of three games at Ball Diamond this weekend.
"It feels good to get a 'W,'" coach Alex Marconi said. "It's a good way to set the tone for the series."
A rocky three-run first inning, which saw the first five RedHawks reach base, put Bowling on his heels, searching for a pitch to get out of the inning. Sure enough, the Cardinals' ace retired the following three hitters, escaping the inning with limited damage.
Facing an early three-run deficit, it was the Cardinals' offense that stepped up. After recording just a lone hit in the first two innings, the Cardinals tied the game at 3-3 in the third. Freshman shortstop Elbert Devarie lined a single to right field to begin the rally.
Catcher Mitch Overly hit a fly ball to centerfield, which appeared to be a routine play. But centerfielder Ryan Curl misjudged the ball and watched it hit the grass in front of him.
A sacrifice fly and a pair of hits later, the game was tied.
Sophomore shortstop T.J. Weir, who finished the day going 2-for-5 with an RBI, said the Cardinals took advantage of the RedHawks' mishaps in the field.
And knowing your own ballpark helps as well.
"The wind here doesn't help them at all," Weir said. "We're used to it a little bit, but we could tell their outfielders were having a little trouble with it. We just made some adjustments and they didn't."
Devarie's two-run double in the fifth inning handed Bowling a 7-5 lead heading into the sixth.
The RedHawks added a run in the sixth and threatened in the seventh, but Bowling quickly put a stop to their offense by inducing an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, the third of the game for the Cardinals.
"They found some holes early," Bowling said. "I felt like they had a pretty good approach. They were ready to hit, finding holes all day. Once they got on, we turned three double plays, and that was huge. The defense behind me made some pretty good plays."
What stood out the most throughout the game was the Cardinals' demeanor. Unlike a couple of weeks ago, the Cardinals were relaxed in the field and loose at the plate.
"If you're loose, it helps you become more relaxed in these situations, which leads to more confidence," Marconi said. "And vice versa. When you're confident, you're relaxed. When you're relaxed, you're more confident. That's what we've been preaching and I think we're finally at that point. We've gotten over that hump."