The Bradley baseball team has spent the first part of its season travelling around the country. It had relative success in that span, going 11-9 in non-conference play.
The men return home this weekend, opening their home schedule with games against MacMurray College Friday and Illinois College Saturday.
“We’ve been on the road for the first five weeks, so it’ll be nice to come home,” head coach Elvis Dominguez said. “The guys are looking forward to sleeping in their own beds and playing in their own park, which is something they haven’t been able to do all season.”
The Braves are coming off a four-game weekend in Indiana, where they came away with two wins and two losses, going an even .500 against both Western Michigan and Butler.
Bradley won in a blowout in the first game against Western Michigan last Friday by a score of 16-5. In the offensive burst, the Braves set a season-high of hits at 18 and tied a school record for doubles at eight.
First baseman Paul Solka, who had 12 hits over the weekend, was feeling it from the plate throughout the entire weekend.
“I’ve been feeling pretty confident at the plate this year,” Solka said. “I feel that I have been seeing the ball pretty well, and this past week at Butler I finally had some hits to show for it.”
However, the bats fell into a Saturday slump the next day. The Braves dropped the first game against Butler by a score of 3-1 in a pitcher’s duel. Later that day, they fell 6-3 in a rematch against Western Michigan.
Bradley regained the heat at the plate Sunday, picking up its second win of the weekend in its last game against Butler by a score of 9-6. Bradley scored eight runs in the first two innings and never looked back.
“We played great on Friday, and we played great on Sunday, but we didn’t play very well on Saturday,” Dominguez said. “It could have been due to us playing late Friday and then having to play two early morning [games] on Saturday. But still, no excuses. I’m glad we figured it out on Sunday.”
The game scheduled for Wednesday against Saint Louis was canceled due to weather.
After the games this weekend and a Wednesday game against Western Illinois, the Braves will begin Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play with a three-game home series against Missouri State April 8-10. The team came one game short of the MVC title last year, losing to Dallas Baptist in the championship game.
“We hope to make as good of a run or better than we did last year,” Dominguez said. “I hope that we’ll be prepared mentally for the grind that is coming ahead. If we stay healthy, we’ll have a pretty good chance.”
Bradley will go into their home opener Friday against MacMurray winning seven out of their last 10 games.
“Finally coming home to play at Dozer is exciting as much it is a relief,” Solka said. “We ran into some unfortunate travel schedules the past few weeks so it’ll be nice to take a step back and be able to relax and strictly focus on playing baseball instead of having to deal with a hectic schedule.”