MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Last season, the Bradley baseball team opened the year with a 9-8 10-inning victory over Pittsburgh at the Service Academy Spring Classic. The Panthers returned the favor Friday afternoon by edging the Braves 3-2 in the opening round of the 2010 Service Academy Spring Classic hosted by Millington's USA Stadium.
In the top of the third, senior infielder Matt Fritz (Northbrook, Ill./DePauw University/Glenbrook North H.S.) put the Braves up 1-0 when he was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a single by junior outfielder Brian Martin (Glen Ellyn, Ill./College of DuPage/Lombard Montini Catholic H.S.).
Bradley added another run in the fourth as sophomore infielder Rob Elliott (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.) doubled to start the inning. After a sacrifice by freshman outfielder Mike Tauchman (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.), Elliott scored when Pitts' catcher overthrew third base on a failed pickoff attempt.
The Panthers answered in the bottom of the fifth with three runs to take the lead, 3-2. Bradley had two runners on in the ninth, but could not come up with a hit to tie the game.
Elliott, senior catcher Kevin Sullivan (Elmhurst, Ill./Oakton J.C./York H.S.) and freshman infielder Jason Leblebijian (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) each had two hits for the Braves. Sophomore's Joe Bircher (Omaha, Neb./Roncalli Catholic H.S.) and Justin Ziegler (Lenexa, Kan./Olathe Northwest H.S.) pitched well for Bradley and were backed by a defense that did not commit an error.
The Braves (0-1) will take on Toledo Saturday, Feb. 27 at 12 p.m. in their second game of the round-robin tournament. Toledo scored two runs in the top of the ninth to beat Memphis 8-6 in Friday's nightcap.
*Box score and game stats were unavailable as of Friday night and will be posted as soon as received.