It has been a tough stretch for Ball State.
Off to its worst start in school history, Ball State has completed a 15-game road trip, including its annual participation in the Caravelle Resort Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
"It was a long trip for us and wasn't successful," coach Alex Marconi said. "It's just a matter of executing. We need our young guys to step up. A lot of [them] are solid in one outing and not solid the next outing. They've got to find a way to be consistent."
Sound defense, solid pitching and timely hitting led to winning. The Cardinals cracked in all three phases of the game over the last week and a half.
"These guys know that for us to be successful, we've got to pitch, hit and play defense," Marconi said. "We are not good enough yet and won't be for a while for us to do just two of those three. It's definitely been a concern."
Ball State squandered opportunities with runners on base. A total of 52 men were left on base and 37 were in scoring position.
"We've faced some good pitching and we've had base runners in most of the games, but we're not getting any big hits," Marconi said.
Marconi said his team is going to have its ups and downs, especially with the number of young players logging as many innings as they have.
"They're talented players," he said. "A little immature baseball wise. The more they play, the better they're going to get."
The pitching staff, particularly the bullpen, has cost the team.
"We're not 100 percent sure who we can put in and what to expect," Marconi said. "That's definitely a concern of ours and we're working to get it better."
The bullpen allowed 22 earned runs and struck out just one more hitter than it walked.
Senior left-hander Derek Grabner and junior right-hander Cal Bowling were inspiring over the trip for Ball State.
Grabner was dealt his first loss of the season on Saturday versus Charlotte despite tossing six innings of three-run baseball. Bowling notched his first win of the season Friday after working a scoreless 6 2/3 innings of four-hit baseball.
"Those two guys have been good the whole year," Marconi said. "Grabner has been very good in one start and Cal has been very good in two."
It's after the starters are taken out that his team lacks experience, Marconi said.
"We can't just throw the same two guys out of the bullpen every game," he said.
Even with all the blunders, Marconi gave his team a passing grade so far.
"I would probably say a ‘C' or ‘C minus,'" Marconi said. "That might be me being tough on the guys based on how young they are. I don't think anybody's expectations of this team are extremely high at this point. I want to win regardless of how old or young we are and who we're playing."