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Bolt’s game two heroics help Braves avoid sweep of Evansville

Bradley is now 9-13 on the season. Photo courtesy Bradley Athletics.

In a wet weekend that saw Saturday’s doubleheader rained out, Bradley baseball felt fortunate to play three of the four scheduled games this past weekend. The Braves dropped Friday’s contest against Evansville before taking one of the two played Sunday.

The Braves were well within striking distance in the two losses, giving up the winning runs in late-inning relief situations. Bradley lost both games by two runs.

“We just didn’t produce,” head coach Elvis Dominguez said. “We didn’t get a key hit when we needed to. We had bases loaded many times.”

The production may not have been there in games one and three of the series, but senior Dan Bolt produced at the plate in game two. He was 4-5 at the plate, driving in four runs and cranking two home runs, one of which walked off the Braves in a 5-4 victory. 

“Going into the at-bat, [with] positive imaging in the head,” Bolt said. “I knew I was coming up in the ninth and obviously I wasn’t going to let our team lose that game. It was a lefty on the mound so my general approach is to look for offspeed away.”

The first pitch Bolt saw, he fouled down the first baseline. He said that allowed him to make a small adjustment in his approach and drill the next pitch to right-center field.

Freshman T.J. Manteufel had a good weekend as well, collecting six total hits, including his second home run of the season in game two on Sunday. 

Despite the two losses, the pitching staff allowed only 13 runs, the lowest for a three-game series since opening weekend against Ball State. Redshirt senior Jed Moscot turned in one of his best outings of the year, going seven innings while allowing three runs on five hits.

“That’s typical Jed, he’s going to go out and get hit around a little bit, he’s not a strike-out guy,” Dominguez said. “He’s a guy that’s going to keep you in the ball game. Friday night games are really tight, close ball games and he gives us an opportunity to win.”

The Braves will need another outing similar to Moscot’s this weekend as Southern Illinois visits Dozer Park. The Salukis are 24-6 on the year and come into the series riding a four-game win streak. 

Southern Illinois is dangerous at the plate, with two of the 28 collegiate players with double-digit home run totals on their team. But from a fielding perspective, SIU is more dangerous with runners on base.

“They have 70 stolen bags on the season, so that’s like four a game,” Bolt said. “We’ve been stressing that this week in practice, being able to hold runners and keep composure with guys on base.”

Bolt had practice last week keeping runners at bay, throwing out the potential game-winning run just one inning before his own game-winning hit.

But, it will require a collective team effort to keep the Salukis from running wild. First pitch for game one of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday at Dozer Park.

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