LAKELAND, Fla. - Six Army errors led to six Bradley unearned runs as the Braves topped the Black Knights 8-6 in the first game of a double-header Friday morning at Henley Field. Sophomore left-hander Joe Bircher (Omaha, Neb./Roncalli Catholic H.S.) evened his record at 1-1, while senior closer Kori Jensen (Wichita, Kan./Hutchinson County C.C./Goddard H.S.) recorded his first save of the season.
The Braves struck first in the top of the first with two runs on two hits, including a two-out RBI single by senior catcher Kevin Sullivan (Elmhurst, Ill./Oakton J.C./York H.S.), to take a 2-0 edge. Three defensive miscues in the third helped the Braves plate two more runs to make the score 4-0. All of Bradley's first four runs were unearned.
After Army plated a run in the bottom of the fourth, junior outfielder Brian Martin (Glen Ellyn, Ill./College of DuPage/Lombard Montini Catholic H.S.) opened the fifth with his second triple of the season and scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore infielder Rob Elliott (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.) to put the Braves up 5-0. With the help of two more Army errors, Bradley added three more runs in the frame to take an 8-1 lead.
Bircher came unglued in the bottom of the sixth as Army's offense erupted for five runs on three hits, including a three-run triple by Joey Henshaw, to make the score 8-6. Freshman right-hander Gus DeQuesada (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus H.S.) replaced Bircher with no outs in the innings and retired three of the next four batters to preserve Bradley's two-run edge, while Jensen pitched a scoreless seventh to give the Braves the 8-6 victory.
After having his 11-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday against NJIT, Martin rebounded with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate to lead Bradley's offense. Bircher threw 5.0 innings, allowing five earned runs of six hits while striking out eight.