Bradley Takes Series With 4-3 Win Over Bears
April 8, 2012
PEORIA, Ill. - Bradley scored in each of the final four innings to claim a 4-3 victory over the Missouri State Bears Sunday in the rubber match of the two clubs' three-game Missouri Valley Conference series at O'Brien Field. Mike Tauchman scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, then drove home the game winner with a two-out single in the eighth to give the Braves their second one-run decision over the Bears in the series.
Tauchman, who led the Braves with a 2-for-4 day, lined Grant Gordon's 2-2 pitch into shallow left field to bring home Andrew Wasmund from third with the go-ahead run in the decisive eighth inning. Wasmund led off the critical frame with a single that settled just inside the left-field foul line, advanced to second on Chris Godinez's sac bunt and moved to third on Bob Elliott's grounder to first before Tauchman came through with the biggest hit of the day.
After Missouri State (24-10, 4-2 MVC) scored three times in the top of the seventh to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 advantage, Tauchman started the bottom half of the inning with a double, then scored from third when Bob Schuch narrowly beat Eric Cheray's relay to first on the back end of what would have been an inning-ending double play. The equalizing rally came on the heels of a key MSU error on Max Murphy's sacrifice bunt with two on and nobody out, resulting in the Braves' fifth unearned run of the weekend. Gordon coaxed a pop foul to first for out number one, then got what appeared to be a double-play ball to second, but Cheray's throw was ruled to have pulled first baseman Brock Chaffin off the bag, thus allowing Tauchman to score the tying run.
The Bears appeared poised to reclaim the lead in the top of the eighth after loading the bases via singles by Luke Voit and Keenen Maddox and a walk to Trey Massenberg before BU reliever Jacob Booden could record an out. But Booden provided a momentum-shifting stretch in the game, striking out Chaffin, Derek Mattea and Joey Hawkins in succession to keep the game tied at 3-3.
Bradley's late-game heroics were made possible by the effort of right-hander Patrick Flanagan, who held the Bears scoreless on just two hits over the first six innings in his first start of the season. Flanagan retired 13 straight Bears and 14 of the final 15 hitters he faced to give BU the chance to grab a 2-0 lead with single tallies in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Bears' Cody Schumacher was nearly as effective, facing the minimum through four innings and keeping BU off the scoreboard until the fifth, when Schuch drove home Murphy with a two-out single to center. That run followed a near-pickoff of Murphy, who was caught in no-man's land for what would have been the third out of the frame. The freshman beat the throw to second, however, when Voit elected to throw behind the runner to first.
The Braves (16-12-1, 3-3 MVC) came up with another improbably score the following inning, as BU catcher Derek Sprout scored all the way from second base on a well-placed sacrifice fly to right-center that forced Massenberg to make an off-balanced throw.
After failing to show any signs of life over the first six innings, the Bears' offense finally came to life in the seventh. Maddox led off with a base hit, and Massenberg walked before Chaffin and Mattea delivered back-to-back singles to put MSU on the board. A fielder's choice grounder and a strikeout nearly got the Braves out of trouble, but Kevin Medrano bounced a single through the left side of the infield on a full-count pitch from Booden to put the Bears on top, 3-2.
That would be the last hurrah for Missouri State, however, as the Bears concluded the weekend having scored in just four of the 26 innings in the series.
Booden (2-1) earned the win for Bradley, striking out four over 1 2/3 innings, while Danny Gifford earned his fifth save with a hitless ninth inning.
For the Bears, Gordon (4-2) was saddled with the loss after yielding the go-ahead run on two hits over 2.0 innings of relief.
Missouri State returns to Hammons Field Wednesday (April 11) to kick off a five-game homestand with a 6 p.m. game against Kansas State.