Bradley Upends Bears With Late Rally to Open MVC Championship Play
May 22, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Mike Tauchman's two-run single in the top of the ninth inning lifted seventh-seeded Bradley to a 5-3 victory over the Missouri State Bears Tuesday evening in opening-round action at the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship at Hammons Field. The Braves (27-25-1) advance to a 7:30 p.m. matchup Wednesday with No. 6 Southern Illinois after overcoming deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 against the Bears to pull out the win.
Bradley began its late comeback with a two-out rally in the top of the eighth inning against MVC Pitcher of the Year Nick Petree, as Austin Jarvis's base hit to center drove in Jason Leblebijian after a one-out walk and a Greg Partyka single.
Petree, who allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits over eight innings before yielding to Tyler Burgess (5-1) in the ninth. Three of the first four Braves' hitters recorded hits against the MVC Freshman of the Year, who suffered his first collegiate loss after Tauchman drove in Andrew Wasmund and Chris Godinez with his one-out hit in front of a hard-charging Spiker Helms in center.
BU's Patrick Flanagan (3-3) completed the victory with the second of his two scoreless innings to lift the Braves to their third win in four meetings with the Bears in 2012. The late rally for the Braves was made possible by the starting effort of senior left-hander Joe Bircher, who kept BU in the game by allowing just three runs on eight hits while striking out nine over seven innings.
Keenen Maddox led the Bears' attack with three hits on the night, including a pair of run-scoring singles, the last of which gave the Bears a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
The Bears wasted little time in claiming the upper hand, as Helms jumped on the first pitch of the game from Bircher and lined a double to deep left field. Kevin Medrano followed with a bunt single, and Helms came all the way around to score the first run of the night when Bircher's throw to first sailed wide of the bag. Maddox extended MSU's lead to 2-0 with a two-out base hit to right-center that plated Medrano from second.
Petree cruised through the early stages of the contest, retiring eight of the first nine hitters he faced before a Godinez two-out single in the third gave the Braves their first hit of the night. BU broke through in the fourth, capitalizing on a critical two-out error by Brock Chaffin to even the score. Leblebijian got things started with a lead-off double to left, followed by back-to-back one-out singles by Max Murphy and Jarvis to load the bases. Petree fanned Bob Schuch for his second strikeout of the inning, but Jerrod Eigsti's bouncer to first glanced off the glove of Chaffin to allow both Leblebijian and Murphy to come home for a 2-all tie.
The Bears reclaimed the lead in the fifth, thanks to a lead-off double by Brent Seifert and Maddox's one-out, RBI single.
With the loss, the Bears will play to keep their quest for a Valley title alive Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. against No. 3 Wichita State.