Coach Alex Marconi will not write Cal Bowling's name on his lineup card Friday as his starting pitcher that night when Ball State opens a three-game series at Ohio. It will be the first time in Marconi's career that Bowling will not start the Cardinals' first game of a series.
Marconi would use Bowling if he could, but the senior right-hander broke his right hand punching the dugout wall during his start last Friday against Miami. With Bowling, the Mid-American Conference's leader in innings pitched, indefinitely sidelined, Marconi will turn to sophomore right-hander T.J. Weir to open the series.
Weir, also Ball State's starting shortstop, began the season as the Sunday starter and has now moved to the front of the rotation. Marconi is looking forward to seeing how Weir will handle the role.
"I'm excited to see a more fresh T.J. Weir on Friday," Marconi said. "That doesn't mean the results will be better or worse than what he's done the last three or four weeks because he's been really good, but I am excited to see him a little fresher."
Weir got his first day off of the season Wednesday, sitting out Ball State's 15-2 loss to Purdue. With the extra time off and the strain of playing shortstop the day before pitching, Marconi said Weir may be able to go deeper into the game. His season high for innings pitched is 7 1/3 innings, a mark he has reached twice. Most recently, Weir threw 7 1/3 innings two weeks ago against Kent State.
After Weir, Ball State's rotation is a pair of question marks.
The Cardinals want right-hander Chris Marangon to start Saturday's game, but Marconi won't rule out using Marangon in relief Friday night. Left-hander Nestor Bautista, who was Ball State's Saturday starter for the first three weeks of the season will likely make his return to the rotation this weekend.
When, however, is anyone's guess. Ball State's has announced just Weir as a probable starter, leaving Saturday and Sunday as TBA.
The Cardinals will return to the road this weekend after playing back-to-back MAC series at Ball Diamond. Ball State won its first series of the year last weekend, taking two of three from Miami.
Right fielder Sean Godfrey is hopeful Ball State will be able to continue its winning ways, despite losing a pair of nonconference, mid-week games Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I'd just like to see us get a series win," Godfrey said. "That'd be big. We need to start playing like we did against Miami."
But because of his team's youth, Marconi isn't sure how much of that success will be easily translated on the road.
"We've got so many young guys that play all the time that I'm still learning them," he said. "They are constantly learning themselves, so that's always a process."
Ball State at Ohio
Game No. 31
First pitch: 6 p.m. Friday
Pitching matchup: RHP T.J. Weir (1-5, 6.58 ERA) vs. LHP Brent Choban (4-2, 2.75)
Weather: 66 degrees, sunny, south 4 mph
Game No. 32
First pitch: 3 p.m. Saturday
Pitching matchup: TBA vs. RHP Jason Moulton (2-2, 2.09)
Weather: 67 degrees, isolated thunderstorms, SSW 14 mph
Game No. 33
First pitch: 1 p.m. Sunday
Pitching matchup: TBA vs. TBA
Weather: 82 degrees, partly cloudy, southwest 15 mph