Press "Enter" to skip to content

Baseball picks up wins in first MVC series and home game of season

Carson Husmann runs to first. Photo by Jenna Zeise

Bradley baseball head coach Elvis Dominguez wanted a road series win. He also wanted his veteran core to step up offensively on a consistent basis.

Well, ask and you shall receive because the Braves (9-11, 2-1) not only claimed the series win over Murray State this past weekend, but the nucleus of senior Connor O’Brien and junior Carson Husmann powered forward, even grabbing a coveted 8-5 home-opening win over Eastern Illinois Tuesday night.

“I’m pleased because they’re starting to figure it out, we just have to figure out all aspects of it,” Dominguez said. “We need it for a couple days in a row or a couple series to see if we can get out of it. I think once we do that, we have a chance to be a very good ballclub.”

The Braves hit .338 over the four-game stretch and averaged over five runs a contest during the same period. The bats came alive in particular for the midweek clash against an offensively potent Eastern Illinois team that was 13-6 coming into the affair.

Junior Ryan Vogel didn’t wait for everyone to get seated when the first pitch to the Bradley leadoff man was taken over the wall for an opening solo shot. Two singles and a sacrifice fly later, Bradley held the 2-0 lead after one frame.

Braves senior pitcher Dalton Mall came back out to the bump with the lead but left with a tie ballgame after loading the bases with nobody out and allowing two to score as a result. However, Husmann’s hitting slump ended and he hammered a pitch over the fence to begin the bottom of the second frame, putting the Braves back up 3-2.

“Staying back and seeing the ball was the biggest thing,” Husmann said. “If I can keep it in the zone, I’ll be just fine.”

After giving up an RBI double in the fourth, Mall exited the game for Braves’ junior pitcher Taylor Catton, who finished the final two outs. Bradley’s “bullpen game” continued as freshman Theo Zeidler made his college debut in a 3-3 tie game heading to the fifth.

It only took three pitches for the Wisconsin native to earn his first career strikeout. Zeidler finished the frame with ease as the offense quieted down on both sides.

Logan Delgado stares down the pitch. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

With junior Logan Delgado doubling with one out in the sixth, his neighbor in the batting order sophomore Peter Hansen, singled to move Delgado to third hoping to break the stalemate. Husmann came up clutch again with a towering flyball to the edge of the left field warning track that allowed Delgado to tag and score and take a 4-3 lead.

EIU knotted the game at four in the seventh inning, but the Braves’ dugout was fed up with the Panthers’ pestering. As senior Connor Manthey occupied third with one out, Vogel slashed his second homer of the game to left, putting Bradley up two to notch his first career multi-homerun game. Minutes later, O’Brien would send another pitch sailing out for the 7-4 lead.

Husmann added another solo shot for good measure in the eighth and the Braves kept the bats hot for the home-opening victory.

“Well, they’re a solid ballclub [and] very well coached,” Dominguez said. “Offensively it’s a grind. We managed to keep them at bay for a little while but yeah, it’s a nightmare. These midweek games give you a lot of heartaches.”

Beating the Panthers kept the wheels churning from the start of Valley play this past weekend, where the Braves took two of three from the Murray State Racers. The opener on Saturday, a Bradley 9-5 victory, was closer than the score would suggest.

Trailing 5-4 entering the eighth, both Delgado and Hansen reached base and were shifted over to third and second on a sacrifice bunt for the first out. Husmann tripled both runners in, which ended up being the game-winning runs.

“I went down two strikes and I’m thinking to elevate something to get that run in from third,” Husmann said. “I busted it out of the box and thankfully made it to third.”

The two teams returned for a Sunday doubleheader in which the Braves split a pair. In the first duel, Bradley was the thorn in the Racers’ side as each time the home club would score, the Braves would tie it up the next inning.

TJ Manteufel stands on deck. Photo by Jonathan Michel

It wasn’t until the sixth frame that Bradley would take its first lead. Following Husmann’s single, junior TJ Manteufel went yard for the two-run home run, his fifth of the year, and the 4-3 lead. The score would stay stagnant as the Braves secured the series victory.

Despite losing the following game 11-1, they returned to Peoria with much excitement, ultimately leading up to the victory Tuesday night. Furthermore, in the win over EIU, graduate closer Connor Langrell picked up his conference-leading sixth save of the season while remaining unscored upon.

“He’s been consistent, I feel very comfortable going to him,” Dominguez said. “He’s a seasoned guy. We just have to get to him, I’m not going to throw him in unless we have a lead.”

Husmann agrees that this past weekend was good to see the bats come alive, but he echoes his coach’s sentiment that once the Braves can tie everything together, they’ll be a consistent force on the diamond.

“As a whole, we still have quite a bit more in the tank,” Husmann said. “Once we put it all together, pitching, hitting and playing clean baseball, I think we’ll be in a good spot to win practically every game.”

Next up for the Braves are the Southern Illinois Salukis who won the regular season MVC title last season and was picked to win the conference in this year’s official preseason poll. SIU should give Bradley all it can handle after winning its last five games.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us,” Husmann said. “We know if we play our game that we’re going to be in every single game we play.”

“I’m hoping we can survive,” Dominguez said. “I mean, it’s gonna be challenging. This league is a mess [because] every weekend is just a grind.”

Copyright © 2023, The Scout, Bradley University. All rights reserved.
The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.