After 18 games, the Bradley baseball team will finally get the home cooking its been waiting for all season at tonight’s home opener against Purdue.
The Braves have been to Tennessee twice, Arkansas and Florida en route to a 12-6 start but have yet to play a home game at O’Brien Field.
Bradley is the only Missouri Valley Conference team who hasn’t played a home game.
The Braves have used great starting pitching to get off to its best 18 game start since 2005. The Bradley starters are 8-4 with a 2.73 earned run average.
“The identity of our team all season has been our pitching and defense,” sophomore left fielder Mike Tauchman said. “We pride ourselves on those two things and for the most part we have been able to perform them to our potential this year.”
Leading the way is junior right-hander Jacob Booden. He is 3-0 on the season and has a 0.68 era.
The Braves are batting just .280 but are manufacturing 5.6 runs a game by playing small ball and executing with runners in scoring position. Bradley leads the
MVC with 27 sacrifices and is second to Wichita State with 33 stolen bases.
“At the plate, we have been able to execute in big situations and do the little things right to score runs,” Tauchman said. “Every person on the team brings something important to the table and helps us win.”
The Braves have competed against top competition this season in preparation for conference play. The team played in the Tennessee Classic and the RussMatt Baseball Central Florida Invitational facing elite schools, Tennessee and Indiana.
Bradley lost 7-3 to Tennessee but was able to beat Indiana 6-2.
“We are very happy with the season so far, but know that we cannot rest on our laurels because the conference season is starting soon,” Tauchman said. “As long as we continue to work hard every day and improve from game-to-game we should be able to continue our success.”
Tauchman said the team’s ultimate goal is to win a MVC championship, but the Braves know they have to focus on the little things to get there.
“Coach D [Elvis Dominguez] has instilled in us to focus on the process, not the outcome,” he said. “So short term, we all have the goal to be our best and do our own individual job, whatever it may be, every single time we are on the field.”