FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Ball State baseball team picked up its first win of the 2010 season Saturday afternoon as the Cardinals upset No. 15 Arkansas 5-2 in front of a crowd of 8,004 at Baum Stadium. The victory is the Cardinals' first over a nationally ranked opponent since April 22, 2009 when Ball State defeated 23rd-ranked Ohio State.
"I am proud of how our team played today," head coach Greg Beals said. "We had to play a very good baseball game today from the start to beat a team of Arkansas' caliber. We showed great character coming back from a tough opening day loss and turning in the effort we had today in our second day outside. Dygert (Zach) and Vitek (Kolbrin) are both big-time players and they had big-time games to lead up offensively today."
Ball State (1-1) received two strong pitching performances to earn the victory as sophomore right-hander Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) and senior right-hander Morgan Coombs (West Terre Haute, Ind./Lincoln Trail College) combined to hold the Razorbacks to just one earned run in the contest. Coombs (1-0) earned the victory as he worked 5.0 innings of relief and only allowed an unearned run on four hits, while striking out a career-high eight batters. Bowling worked 4.0 solid innings in his first work of the season as he allowed just one run on four hits while striking out three batters.
"Bowling and Coombs teamed up to give great outing on mound," Beals said. "Cal pitched well and got us through four innings. Mo took ball over in fifth and turned in five strong innings. He is a tough competitor and did a great job closing it out even though he was running out of steam. Our defense provided great support to our staff by turning in an error-less game."
Ball State opened the scoring quickly as it plated two runs in the top of the first inning against Arkansas starter Geoffrey Davenport. Freshman right fielder Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) started things off as he reached base on an infield error. Junior second baseman Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan, Ohio/Bryan) notched his first RBI of the season as he tripled to right center field. Senior catcher Zach Dygert (Angola, Ind./Angola) gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead as he lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in Vitek.
Arkansas got on the board in the bottom of the second inning against Bowling. Brett Eibner reached base on a fielder's choice and moved into scoring position when Bowling was called for a balk. James McCann drove in Eibner as he singled through the right side to narrow the BSU lead to 2-1.
The Cardinals added a third run in the top of the sixth inning as once again Campbell and Vitek set the table as they notched back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Arkansas reliever DJ Baxendale was able to get a ground ball double play to limit the damage to just one run as Ball State took a 3-1 lead.
Arkansas narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning as it scored an unearned run against Coombs. Monk Kreder opened the inning with a single and Brett Eibner drew a walk to put two aboard. After a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, the Cardinals were charged with a passed ball that allowed Kreder to score the Razorbacks' second run of the day. Coombs buckled down and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning, stranding the tying run on third base.
Arkansas came close to tying the game in the bottom of the seventh inning as Jarrod McKinney led off with a ground rule double. Coombs quickly got two outs but then walked two batters to load the bases. Coombs ended the threat and left the bases loaded as he struck Eibner out to end the inning.
The Cardinals got some much needed breathing room in the top of the eighth inning against Baxendale. Vitek led off the inning with his fourth hit of the game as he singled through the left side. Dygert gave the Cardinals a pair of insurance runs as he crushed a 0-1 pitch high over the left field wall for his first home run of the season and a 5-2 Ball State lead.
Coombs worked out of another jam in the eighth inning as he stranded two more runners when he induced a foul pop fly from Tim Carver to end the inning. He closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the ninth as he struck out the last two batters of the game.
Vitek and Dygert led the Ball State attack as they combined for seven of the Cardinals' 10 hits, drove in four runs and scored four runs. Vitek ended the day with four hits and reached base all five times he came to the plate while Dygert tallied three hits and drove in three runs in the victory.
Davenport (0-1) was charged with the loss as he allowed two runs on four hits in 4.0 innings of work. Baxendale worked 3.1 innings and allowed three runs on four hits while Jeremy Heatley tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
The Cardinals and Razorbacks will close out the three-game series with the rubber game Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. (CT) at Baum Stadium.