Rebounding quickly from a disappointing Opening Day loss, Ball State University upset No. 15 University of Arkansas 5-2 Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals (1-1) scored two runs in the top of the first inning and held on for the win. The Razorbacks (1-1) had plenty of opportunities to take the lead, but were unable to find a clutch hit.
Cal Bowling and Morgan Coombs consistently worked out of trouble for Ball State, stranding 12 Arkansas base runners. Coombs (1-0) pitched five innings in relief of Bowling for the victory. The senior allowed one run on four hits and struck out eight.
The Cardinals jumped on the Razorbacks starting pitcher Geoffrey Davenport (0-1) from the start. Right fielder Kirby Campbell had his first collegiate hit and was driven in by second baseman Kolbrin Vitek with a one-out triple. Catcher Zach Dygert brought in Vitek with a sacrifice fly, the first of his three RBI.
Arkansas scored a run in the second inning, but that was all it would get against Bowling. The sophomore pitched four innings and struck out three.
Strikeouts were a common feature of the game. The two teams combined for 25 punch outs. Three Cardinals struck out three times.
After Ball State added a run in the sixth, Arkansas threatened to have a big inning. The first two batters reached against Coombs and McCann sacrificed them to second and third with one out. The Razorbacks again pulled within one run when a slider got away from catcher Kevin Franchetti.
However, Coombs responded with a pair of strikeouts to hold the lead.
Coombs again worked out of trouble in the seventh inning, loading the bases with two outs, before striking out preseason All-American center fielder Brett Eibner.
Dygert removed much of the drama from the game with a long two-run home run to the left field bleachers in the eighth inning. Dygert finished the game 3-for-4.
Coombs dodged more trouble in the eighth inning and then set the Razorbacks down in order for the first time in the ninth inning.
In addition to being unable to find a clutch hit, Arkansas also suffered from poor defense. The Razorbacks committed three errors, including a costly miscue on a rundown that led to the Cardinals' run in the sixth inning.
Ball State last defeated a ranked team last year, when they pounded No. 23 Ohio State University 20-8 April 22. It was also Ball State's first win against a school from the Southeastern Conference since the 2006 NCAA Tournament, when it upset the University of Kentucky.
The Cardinals will complete their three-game series with the Razorbacks Sunday at 2 p.m. However, rain is in the forecast most of the day.