Struggling to find consistency

The Braves have won three of their last five games, lifting their record to 13-17 and looking for their first conference win today.
photo by Justin Limoges

The Bradley baseball team has had a polarizing offensive week. While the Braves usually put up six or more hits in a game, they have either scored fewer than three or more than 10 runs in each of their last five games.

Head coach Elvis Dominguez said he doesn’t have an answer for the team’s current inconsistent performance.

“You can’t go from 11 [runs] on 15 hits to getting six hits like we did [Thursday] and putting up only two runs,” Dominguez said. “I wish I had an answer to the lack of consistency.”

Senior outfielder Evan Gruener said he recognizes the issue, too. Though the Braves won three of their last five games, they still sit below .500 at 13-17 on the season.

“We have a problem of scoring consistently every night,” Gruener said. “If we’re not going, we’re not going at all. If we are going, we are hot. It’s tough because if we can just put the hitting and the pitching together, we can be a very solid team.”

Bradley was hot Tuesday when they beat Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 10-7, and Gruener was the driving force behind the win. In his first game in nearly two months after a shoulder injury, Gruener blasted a homerun and a double in three at-bats, driving in four runs.

Gruener said the time off allowed him to gain a different perspective on the game and clear his mind.

“I think taking all that time off and just forgetting everything was nice,” Gruener said. “Everything was just back to instinct and reacting. It also helped we were playing [former assistant coach and SIU-E head coach Sean Lyons], so there was added motivation.”

Sophomore Matthew Richey earned the win Tuesday after tossing 4 2/3 innings in relief and holding SIU-E to no runs on only one hit.

Sophomore Mitch Janssen pitched the following day against Northwestern hoping for similar run support. Unfortunately for Janssen, it wasn’t there. The righty threw six innings, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts and was dealt a loss.

The Braves were only able to muster up two runs on seven hits, and Dominguez said he wasn’t happy with the lack of offensive firepower.

“The bats were slow,” Dominguez said. “We could not get anything going offensively. We had solid starting pitching, but we just couldn’t do it from the opposite end. We have to pull it together and [we] need more consistency.”

Bradley’s run-scoring inconsistency was also evident in last weekend’s series against Milwaukee. Bradley won two games by scores of 3-2 and 11-5 but lost Sunday’s game 13-4. Gruener and Dominguez both said the team is young and still growing, but there’s reason for optimism.

“This is a very new team ‒ a lot of new pieces,” Gruener said. “The more we’ve played together, the more we’ve gelled. We’re finally getting there, we just need the pitchers to keep doing what they’re doing, and the bats will come.”

The Braves host Wichita State this weekend in their second Missouri Valley Conference series of the season. Game one starts at 7 p.m. tonight at Dozer Park.