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‘One bad inning’: Baseball leaves Sin City winless against UNLV

Redshirt sophomore Noah Edders throws a pitch in a game against Western Kentucky on Feb. 16, 2024. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

Bradley baseball (1-5) headed to Las Vegas over the weekend, hoping to steal games from a very good University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) team.

The Rebels proved to be too much for the Braves as UNLV swept them in the weekend series.

Bradley losing leads

“Here is a funny thing about our sport: you can do everything right and still not come out on [top at] the end of it,” head coach Elvis Dominguez said about the Braves’ first game.

The series opener against the Rebels featured a Braves team that outhit the Rebels 11 to 10, but lost the game 3-9. This can be explained by the quality of hits both teams had, according to Dominguez.

“Seven out of the 10 hits [UNLV had] were for extra bases,” Dominguez said. “We had two extra-base hits out of the 11 [hits]. They were hitting balls that were doubles, triples and home runs, but we were just single, single; but you need three singles to score.”

Both extra-base hits for the Braves came in the top of the fourth. After junior Timmy O’Brien roped a double to start the inning, senior Logan Delgado hit a home run to right field to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.

“It was nice to kickstart the offense and get it going,” Delgado said.

That was the only lead the Braves had for the entirety of the game. The Rebels scored eight runs between the fourth and ninth innings to put the win out of reach.

Noah Edders had the start on Friday against the Rebels. The sophomore right-hander had a great outing, outside of a very costly fifth inning.

“I thought it was great,” Dominguez said. “Up until that one inning where he only threw five pitches and gave up three runs. He gave up a double, gave up a home run and gave up a triple. He pitched well. That [inning] is not indicative of his outing at all.”

Bradley allowed five runs to the Rebels in the fifth and put themselves in a hole for the rest of the game.

“It was a 2-1 ballgame in the fifth,” Dominguez said. “We gave up five [runs] after we were up 2-1, so that was the tipping point right there.”

The Braves’ offense was halted to three hits in the final three innings and could not get any runs across, giving the Rebels the convincing game-one win.

Another bad inning

“It’s the same typical stuff, one bad inning,” Dominguez said.

The Braves hoped that they could get one back against the Rebels on Saturday. This was Bradley’s best chance to defeat UNLV, but they couldn’t come back after an inning they wished went differently. The final score was 4-1 in favor of the Rebels.

Junior Travis Lutz got the start for the Braves on the mound. The right-hander liked his performance, aside from one inning that he will admit he struggled in.

“I was doing really good, I was cruising for a while there,” Lutz said. “I had about a span of about eight pitches where my mobilities left my body and I struggled, but then I came right back to what I was doing. The box score looks a little rough, but it was okay at the end of the day. The outing was fogged up a little bit with that one [inning].”

That inning was the fourth for the Braves. The Rebels hit a two-run home run to break open the game’s scoring. Then Lutz, with two outs, hit three straight batters on three consecutive pitches but got out of the bases-loaded jam with a strikeout.

Even though Lutz got himself out of that situation, Dominguez still wasn’t pleased with how it unfolded.

“That’s a part that was really frustrating to be able to finish and we didn’t,” Dominguez said. “We have to be able to finish and that’s what cost us there.”

Bradley could not conjure up enough runs to give themselves a chance in this game, which can be credited to the great pitching staff of UNLV.

“We did not swing the bats well in that second game,” Dominguez said. “It is really indicative of how good their pitching staff was.”

The only run the Braves scored came in the top of the seventh. Sophomore Beau Durbin doubled to right field and drove in senior Jackson Chatterton. The Rebels scored one more run in their half of the seventh and swept the Braves on Sunday.

A struggle in all facets

Bradley came into Sunday on a four-game losing skid and hadn’t beat UNLV all weekend, two things they wanted to change.

Unfortunately, the Braves came out flat in all facets of the game against the Rebels on Sunday, losing 10-0 and leaving Sin City swept.

“We didn’t play well,” Dominguez said. “We didn’t pitch well, we didn’t hit well, we didn’t do anything well.”

Junior Jack Stellano got the start for Bradley, and the left-hander struggled early on. Stellano only went two innings before he was taken out.

“[Against UNLV] he just did not have command of his secondary stuff,” Dominguez said. “He was pitching out of trouble from the first inning. He gave up a run in the first inning with two outs, nobody on, and then he walked three guys.”

“He just created that for himself, it was an uphill battle for him, but he’s going to be fine,” Dominguez added.

As for the offense, Bradley needed help to get something going with the sticks. The Braves only managed five hits.

“Credit to their pitching staff for mixing the way that they did,” Delgado said. “After Friday they picked up that if they’re going to throw a fastball you’re going to hit it, so they started throwing a lot of change-ups, breaking balls and stuff like that.”

It doesn’t feel good to be swept and shut out in the final game, but it’s very early on in the season for the Braves and they know they will be okay.

“There’s a lot of new guys in our lineup, a lot of inexperience at times,” Delgado said. “It’s just getting more at-bats and seeing more arms and playing more games. I think we’ll be alright.”

“You can do everything right and still not have success,” Dominguez added. “So I think we’re going to be okay. I know we’re going to be okay.”

The Braves will head to St. Charles, Missouri over the weekend to play the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Lindenwood. The first pitch against Nebraska-Omaha is scheduled for noon on March 1.

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