Mitch Widau stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning with two outs and Kirby Campbell on second base. Ball State was tied with Dayton at three on Opening Day in Spartanburg, S.C.
Widau took a ball from Dayton reliever Parker Schrage (0-1) before lining a single to left field that brought Campbell around to score the go-ahead run. Left-hander Devin Wilburn (1-0) retired the Flyers in order in the bottom half of the inning to give the Cardinals the 4-3 victory. It was Ball State's first win on Opening Day since 2005 when it defeated Middle Tennessee State.
Ball State fell behind 1-0 in the first inning before right-hander Cal Bowling settled into the game. Bowling, making his second consecutive Opening Day start, threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run.
With Bowling keeping the Flyers off the scoreboard, the Cardinals were able to take a 3-1 lead with two runs in the sixth. The heart of Ball State's lineup did all the damage, starting with a leadoff single by Tim Issler. T.J. Weir doubled him home before Sean Godfrey hit an RBI single of his own.
Bowling was in line to win the game until he ran into trouble in the seventh. After getting two quick outs, he allowed a single and a walk before being relieved by left-hander Jon Cisna. He was met by a bad string of events, as catcher Mitch Overley was charged with a passed ball, before Cisna hit a batter and allowed a two-run single that tied the game at three.
But Ball State was able to stop the bleeding and itself a chance to win the game in the ninth. Campbell led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a groundout by Wes Winkle, setting the stage for Widau's heroics.
Widau went 2-for-4 and was one of three Cardinals with two hits in the game. Blake Beemer and Overley were the others.
Ball State continues its road trip Saturday with a game at USC Upstate at 3 p.m. Left-hander Nestor Bautista will get the start for the Cardinals.