The Bradley baseball team continued its hot start by beating Big Ten opponent Purdue 9-4 at O’Brien Field last Friday.
The Braves pounded out 10 hits and junior starting pitcher Joe Bircher gave the team seven strong innings, giving up just three earned runs.
Beating Purdue gave Bradley its second win over a Big Ten conference school this season. The other victory came over Indiana on March 6.
Bircher said he is pleased with the team’s play so far this year.
“The start has been great because we’re battling in every game,” he said. “We never stop playing with intensity until the game is over. We have had a lot of comeback wins and those really help team morale.”
Purdue jumped on the Braves early. The Boilermakers scored two runs in the top of the first and added another run in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead.
But Bradley answered with a run of its own in the third and then exploded for three runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Neither team scored again until the top of the seventh when Purdue’s Stephen Talbott singled home a run to tie the game.
But as the Braves have done all season they answered with runs of their own in the home half of the inning.
Sophomore Bob Schuch began the rally with a single and senior Brian Martin’s sacrifice bunt advanced him to second.
Bradley then loaded the bases on junior Rob Elliott’s walk and a catcher’s interference call during sophomore Mike Tauchman’s at-bat.
Needing a big hit, junior Brad Kimball stepped to the plate and answered the call doubling down the left field line scoring Schuch and Elliot.
One batter later, junior Jerrod Eigsti singled up the middle, chasing home Tauchman and Kimball to give the Braves a commanding 8-4 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Bradley tacked on one more run in the eighth and junior right-hander Danny Gifford finished off Purdue pitching two scoreless innings in relief.
Freshman Derek Sprout and Schuch each led the team with two hits.
Bircher said Bradley’s great start is encouraging, but the team can’t take its foot off the pedal.
“As a team we know that we can’t just coast and expect to keep winning games,” he said. “We need to continue to improve both on the mound as well as at the plate. As long as each guy does his individual part to get better every day we’ll be just fine.”