Ball State baseball went 2-2 this weekend behind strong performances from its starting rotation.
The Cardinals' four starters — senior right-hander BJ Butler, redshirt senior lefty Kevin Marnon, redshirt sophomore righty Evan Marquardt and junior righty Colin Brockhouse — combined for a 1.92 ERA with a .126 batting average against in the Caravelle Resorts Tournament in South Carolina.
"Four quality starts, and that's not something we've been able to do the last couple of years," head coach Rich Maloney said. "Very impressive pitching, limited walks and multiple strikeouts by each of our four starters is very encouraging."
Butler (0-1, 1.54 ERA) started against defending national champion No. 19 Coastal Carolina (4-4) in Friday's 1-0 loss.
"Two No. 1s going at each other, and for the most part he really out-dueled the Coastal Carolina guy," Maloney said. "Unfortunately, we had a few more hits but weren't able to bring in a run."
Ball State starting pitchers in Caravelle Resorts Tournament
Innings pitched: 28
ERA: 1.92 (6 earned runs)
Batting average against: .126 (12-95)
K/9: 9.0 (28 strikeouts)
The Chanticleers only mustered two hits off Butler, but in the bottom of the sixth Coastal Carolina freshman Cory Wood drew a walk.
Wood stole second base and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. He scored the only run of the game on an RBI sacrifice bunt by junior third baseman Seth Lancaster, who was hitting cleanup.
"They didn't even get a hit to get their run," Maloney said.
Butler was credited with his first loss of the season after striking out seven in seven innings with two hits allowed, one walk and one earned run. Coastal Carolina senior right-hander Alex Cunningham (2-0, 1.38 ERA) got the win after throwing eight scoreless innings with six strikeouts, five hits allowed and three walks.
Ball State, though, bounced back Saturday with a pair of wins in a doubleheader against George Mason (2-5).
The Cardinals scored 14 runs on 16 hits in the first game, providing more than enough support for Marnon (2-0, 3.27 ERA), who allowed three earned runs on five hits and four walks in six innings with three strikeouts in the 14-6 win.
In the second half of the doubleheader, Marquardt (1-1, 2.61 ERA) didn't allow George Mason to reach base until the fifth inning. He finished the 7-0 win with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks.
"He was fun to watch, he really was," Maloney said. "He was pretty dominant, that's all I can say. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes, he was overpowering—man it was so encouraging. And then we were able to get some hits for him."
Brockhouse (1-1, 1.46 ERA) started Sunday's finale against West Virginia (4-2) even better — he struck out the first three batters he faced and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
With the Cardinals leading 1-0, though, Brockhouse gave up a two-out single to West Virginia junior Kyle Davis. Sophomore Darius Hill stepped in next and pulled the 1-0 pitch over the right-field wall for a two-run home run, giving the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead.
"Their guy ran into one and just barely made it over the fence," Maloney said. "It was unfortunate because Brockhouse was so, so good. ... He was dominant, electric, everything you want to see."
Ball State is now 4-3 on the season, but with every game on the road — and a 1-2 record against teams ranked at the time of the game — Maloney said the team is on the right track.
"4-3 at this point, with the schedule we were playing, I thought would be a good start," Maloney said. "And that's what I think now."
The Cardinals are back in action with five games at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, next weekend before traveling to Corvallis, Oregon, to take on No. 8 Oregon State (7-1) in a four-game series March 9 to 11.
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