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Late rally puts baseball back in its winning ways

Bradley scored seven runs in the final three innings to earn its 11th come-from-behind victory of the season in a 9-8 win over Indiana State.

The Braves lost the first two games of the weekend series against the Sycamores before salvaging a win Sunday. Bradley moved to 19-11 on the season.

After six innings, Indiana State led 5-2, but the Braves battled back, scoring four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead.

The lead didn’t last long. In home half of the seventh, the Sycamores put two runs on the board off junior reliever Justin Ziegler to put Indiana State back on top 7-6.

Bradley scored a run in the eighth inning to tie the game, only to see the Sycamores answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.

Bradley began the ninth with junior Rob Elliott and sophomore Mike Tauchman drawing walks to put runners on first and second. Freshman Austin Jarvis moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt and Indiana State countered by walking junior Jerrod Eigsti to load the bases.

The move didn’t pay off as freshman Derek Sprout drew a walk to plate a run then sophomore Jason Leblebijian’s sacrifice fly gave the Braves another run and a 9-8 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Tauchman had two hits, two runs scored and two runs batted in. Sprout added two hits of his own and scored a run. Zeigler earned the win pitching three innings, giving up three earned runs.

Junior pitcher Joe Bircher said the team has a mental toughness that separates them from their opponents.

“One of our favorite things to say this year is ‘don’t beat ourselves’ and we’ve been able to do it so far,” he said. “We’ve been pitching well the whole season and we’ve had some clutch hitting. Those two things together make us hard to beat.”   

Time and time again, the Braves have faced early deficits but battled back to earn the victory.

Bircher said the team is playing with a chip on its shoulder and is out to prove people wrong.

“We are on a mission to beat everyone’s expectations,” he said. “We were picked to finish dead last in the Valley this season and we expect to seriously open some eyes during conference play.”

The Braves can do just that with an eight-game home stand starting tonight at O’Brien Field against Illinois State.