COLUMBIA, Mo. - Ball State senior right-hander Cal Bowling (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) continued his strong start to the 2012 season as he tossed his fifth career complete game to lead the Cardinals to a 5-2 victory at Big 12 foe Missouri Friday night at Taylor Stadium, spoiling the Tigers' 2012 home opener.
"Tonight was another really good outing from Cal," head coach Alex Marconi. "His competitive desire is unmatched and his ability to mix his pitches in any count makes him so difficult to face. Our offense was ready to play today. We had the best approach at the plate so far this season and came up with timely hits."
Bowling went the distance for the first time since May 19, 2011 against Toledo and for the first time in a non-conference game in his career. He limited the Tigers to two runs on only five hits while walking one batter and striking out seven. He retired 19 of the final 20 batters he faced and did not allow a runner past first base after the third inning. Bowling has worked into at least the seventh inning in all three starts this season as he own a 2.28 ERA in 23.2 innings so far on the young campaign.
Junior center fielder Wes Winkler (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) and freshman third baseman Elbert Devarie (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway) highlighted the Cardinals' 13-hit attack as they each posted a career-high three hits in the victory. Winkle drove in a pair of runs, stole two bases and notched his first career triple in the victory while Devarie recorded the first multiple-hit game of his young career.
Ball State (2-4) opened the scoring in the top of the second against Missouri right-hander Eric Anderson. Junior catcher Kevin Franchetti (Highland, Ind./Andrean) and Devarie posted back-to-back two out singles to get the Cardinals' offense going. Winkle drove in the game's first run with a single into right field before senior Mitch Widau (Richmond, Ind./Richmond) put the Cardinals up 2-0 with a single down the right field line.
Missouri (2-5) battled back and tied the score with two runs in the bottom half of the second inning. The Tigers got two singles to start off the inning before Landon Lucansky tripled into the right field gap to tie the game at 2-2. Bowling worked out of the jam, stranding Lucansky at third base as he induced a short fly ball before striking Sal Belfonte to end the inning.
The Cardinals took the lead back for good in the top of the fourth inning as they used the long ball for the first time this season. Junior left fielder Kirby Campbell (Muncie, Ind./Cowan) led off the inning with his second career home run over the left center field wall to put the Cardinals in front 3-2. The home run was Campbell's first since February 25, 2011 at Southeast Missouri.
Ball State got a pair of crucial insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning as Devarie once again set the table with a one-out single. Winkle followed with a run-scoring triple into the right center field gap to give the Cardinals a two-run lead and end Anderson's night. Ball State executed a perfect squeeze play as Widau laid down a bunt that was placed perfectly allowing Winkle to score for the 5-2 lead.
The three-run lead was all room Bowling would need as he retired the final eight batters in order, including the game-ending strikeout of Eric Garcia to cap the Cardinals' win. The victory was the second of the season for the Cardinals who needed 13 games last season to record win number two.
Ball State and Missouri will continue the three-game series Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. (CT) with sophomore left-hander Nestor Bautista (New York, N.Y./George Washington) set to take the hill for the Cardinals.