The Bradley baseball team finally broke out of its long losing streak, sweeping Missouri State in a three game series at O’Brien Field.
Coming into the series the Braves had lost nine games in a row.
The Braves dominated the Bears in game one. Bradley pounded out 15 hits and scored seven runs in a 7-0 shutout.
Junior outfielder Brian Martin, senior infielder Matt Fritz and freshman outfielder Mike Tauchman combined for 10 hits and five RBIs in the victory.
Sophomore pitcher Joe Bircher threw eight shutout innings, striking out 10.
In game two, the Braves trailed the Bears 4-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs in the inning, Martin doubled home sophomore third baseman Rob Elliot to tie the score at 4-4.
Bradley then had consecutive doubles from senior catcher Kevin Sullivan and sophomore designated hitter Brad Kimball to plate two more runs and give the Braves a 6-4 lead they would never relinquish.
Martin and Sullivan each contributed two hits to lead Bradley.
The Braves looked for just their second three game sweep of the season in the third and final game of the weekend.
Bradley again needed a comeback late to secure a victory. Heading to the bottom of the ninth the Braves trailed 8-6, however the team would not go quietly.
Bradley began the inning with two consecutive singles by Sullivan and Kimball. Freshman outfielder Christian Segar then drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.
The next batter, senior first baseman Mike McMillan, lifted a high fly ball to center scoring Sullivan from third to make it an 8-7 game. After a wild pitch and intentional walk the bases were again loaded with one out for freshman infielder Jason Leblebijian. He again lifted a sac fly to center scoring Segar and tying the game at eight.
With the score tied and a runner on second, Missouri State brought in its outfield for a potential play at the plate, but Fritz left no chance for the Bears to make a play when he ripped a single to left-center field scoring Tauchman from second to give the Braves a 9-8 victory in walkoff fashion.
A few days before the Missouri State series began the Braves had the opportunity to play an exhibition against the Cubs’ Single A affiliate the Peoria Chiefs.
Sophomore pitcher Jacob Booden said the game “clearly helped” in the sweep of Missouri State.
“I think the experience was great especially for the younger guys on the team,” he said. “It let the guys not worry about the small things and just play baseball.”