After a 2-0 start to the season, the men’s baseball team was swept last weekend at the hands of the Lipscomb Bisons.
Despite early scoring and strong starting pitching, the Braves were unable to win a contest in the three-game series, falling to 2-3 on the season.
Bradley depended on its starting pitching early on, and its players came through.
Braves’ starters, juniors Rob Scahill and Brad Altbach along with senior Collin Brennan combined to give up just six runs over the first four innings of each game, but the three righties all returned to the Hilltop without a win.
Coach Elvis Dominguez said he was happy with the way his starting pitchers threw the ball, but he couldn’t leave them in the game because they were on pitch counts.
“We want to make sure that those guys are as healthy and strong at the end of the season as they are now,” he said.
Offensively, seniors Nick Mitidiero and Grant Escue led the way.
Escue, the only player to record a hit in each of the three games, went 3-for-11 on the weekend driving in three runs and scoring twice.
Mitidiero went 3-for-9 with 2 RBIs and scored one run.
“Grant had another great weekend offensively,” Dominguez said. “Nick did everything he was capable of doing, playing outstanding baseball all weekend long.”
Game 1: Lipscomb 8, Bradley 2
Scahill turned in his second consecutive effective start of the season, giving up just two runs on six hits over five innings. But the offense was unable to score for its starter, and Scahill left the game with his team down 2-0.
Senior Tommy Fitzgerald and junior Matt Fritz both reached base in the top of the sixth, allowing Mitidiero and senior Colby Luttrell to knock them in, evening the score at 2-2.
Bradley had a chance to take the lead in the inning, but senior Adam Kimball’s strikeout led to Mitidiero being caught attempting to steal third base, which ending the inning.
“We just have to find a way to make contact and put balls into play,” Dominguez said. “We weren’t able to do that this weekend.”
Lipscomb loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth and the Bisons’ Tyler Wilson hit a two-run single off senior Brandon Stevens to give his team a 4-2 lead.
Lipscomb scored another run in the seventh and three in the eighth to win the game.
Game 2: Lipscomb 4, Bradley 3
The Braves struck first in the second game of the series when Mitidiero knocked in Fitzgerald to give Bradley an early 1-0 lead.
After giving up a run in the bottom of the first, the Braves reclaimed the lead in the third, pushing across two more runs.
Fritz led off the inning with a single, and was eventually knocked in by Escue who eventually scored the second run of the inning on a wild pitch.
Brennan got the start, striking out seven over five innings and giving up two runs. He left the game after the fifth with Bradley up 3-2.
The Braves had the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings, but were not able to add insurance runs.
“We got a lot of guys on and a lot of guys in scoring position,” Dominguez said. “We just were not able to get a clutch hit all weekend long.”
Lipscomb pushed across a run in the bottom of the sixth off Bradley senior Bryan Porter, tying the game 3-3.
With the score still tied, the game went to the eighth where the Braves could not score in the top of the inning.
Porter gave up a lead-off triple in the bottom of the eighth and intentionally walked the next two batters.
It made no difference, as the next Bisons’ batter hit a sacrifice fly to win the game for Lipscomb.
Game 3: Lipscomb 8, Bradley 4
The Braves again got on the board first in the series finale, scoring two runs in the opening inning off an Escue home run.
After allowing a run to score in the bottom of the first, Bradley scored two more in the third to go up 3-1.
The game started to unravel for the Braves in the bottom of the fourth. The Bisons hit a two-run home run off of Altbach to pull Lipscomb within one run.
The Bisons put up a five-spot in the next inning, and the Braves was unable to answer back as they lost their third game of the weekend.