DEKALB, Ill. - Ball State senior right-hander Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) capped off his stellar four-year career by tying a career-high 11 strikeouts in 8.0 innings of work to lead the Cardinals to a Mid-American Conference series sweep at Northern Illinois with a 6-2 victory. The sweep is the first of the season for the Cardinals who finished one game out of the MAC Tournament.
Bowling allowed one earned run on six hits in just his second start since missing over a month of the season due to an injury. He needed only 107 pitches in 8.0 innings to improve to 4-3 on the year. Bowling finished his career with an 18-12 record, including five complete games, while pitching in 61 games with 45 starts. He worked 279.1 innings for the Cardinals with a 4.83 ERA while striking out 185 batters.
Ball State (14-36, 9-18 MAC) opened the scoring quickly for the third straight game as it plated three runs in the top of the second inning against NIU starter Tony Manville. Junior Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) led off with a single and quickly moved to third on a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt. Senior Tim Issler (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) gave the Cardinals the early lead as he singled up the middle.
After a walk to senior Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond), sophomore Sean Godfrey (New Albany, Ind./New Albany) continued his torrid pace on the weekend lining a run-scoring double down the left field line scoring Issler. Redshirt sophomore Billy Wellman (Portland, Ind./Jay County) put the Cardinals in front 3-0 as he reached on an infield single plating Widau.
Northern Illinois (15-40, 7-20 MAC) made it a one-run game in the fourth inning as it took advantage of a BSU error to score two runs, one of which was unearned. The Huskies posted two hits in the inning and had the tying run in scoring position before Bowling stuck out a batter to end the threat.
Ball State picked up some breathing room in the top of the sixth inning as junior Wes Winkle (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) singled through the left side and Widau doubled to put two in scoring position. Godfrey lifted a sacrifice fly into center field before Wellman singled up the middle to give the Cardinals a 5-2 lead.
The Cardinals tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning thanks in large part to Winkle's speed. He led off the inning with a single and stole second base to move into scoring position. Wellman posted his third run-scoring hit of the afternoon lining a single up the middle that scored Winkle easily from second base.
Wellman finished the game with three hits and three RBI as the Cardinals posted 17 hits in the victory. Five different Cardinals posted multiple-hit games with Godfrey and Campbell also reach three hits apiece. Godfrey finished the three-game series with a .667 (10-of-15) batting average while driving in seven runs on the weekend.
Manville (2-9) picked up the loss for the Huskies who finished the conference season having nine straight games. He allowed five runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings while not striking a batter out on the afternoon.