WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Rob Elliott reached safely in all five plate appearances and Greg Partyka drove in three runs, including a necessary insurance run on an eighth-inning double, leading Bradley (7-5-1) to a 7-6 win against Fairfield (5-8) in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational Monday afternoon at Chain O' Lakes Park.
Elliott, who had accounted for 23 runs in Bradley's first 12 games, scored three more and drove in a fourth run Monday, going 4-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Elliott moved into a tie for seventh in school history with Dan Brewer (2006-08) with 142 career runs scored. He also became the third player in school history to steal at least 60 career bases, pushing his total to 61 with his two steals Monday.
Elliott put the Braves on the board first by leading off the bottom of the first with a single, swiping second and scoring on Partyka's 2-out single.
Making his first career start, freshman lefthander David Koll cruised through the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. The Stags scored four runs on four hits and two walks in the third before starting catcher Austin Jarvis ended the inning by throwing out a would-be base stealer with another runner at third.
Bradley pulled to within 4-3 in the fourth when Elliott drew a bases-loaded walk and Jason Leblebijian followed with a hit-by-pitch.
Appearing in his first career game as the starting leftfielder, freshman Paul Solka started Bradley's 2-run sixth inning by legging out a leadoff double. He later scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch and Partyka followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Braves up, 5-4.
Solka's one-out error in the top of the seventh helped Fairfield draw even, but the Braves regained the lead for good in the home half of the inning. Rightfielder Bob Schuch led off the seventh with a single, advanced to second on a Jerrod Eigsti sacrifice and scored on a Curtiss Bunch single. The Braves picked up a needed insurance run in the eighth when Elliott led off with a single, took second on a balk and scored on Partyka's 2-out double.
Senior closer Danny Gifford (2-0), who entered with two outs in the seventh, earned the win despite giving up a run in the ninth. Gifford's effort was helped by reserve catcher Derek Sprout, who threw out the potential tying run trying to steal second to end the game. Gifford combined with relievers Steve Adkins and Patrick Flanagan to limit Fairfield to two runs on three hits in 5.0 innings, allowing the Bradley offense to rally.
After playing four games in their first four days in central Florida, Bradley will take Tuesday off before resuming their schedule in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational by taking on Bucknell in a 5 p.m. (CST) game Wednesday at Lake Myrtle Park in Auburndale.
NOTES: Led by Elliott's play at the top of the order, Bradley has scored in the first inning in seven of the first 13 games and the Braves have scored first in 11 of the first 13 games ... Elliott has hit safely in 12 of Bradley's first 13 games and is 7-for-9 in the last two games ... For the second game in a row, Bradley ended the game by throwing out a runner trying to steal second.