MACOMB, Ill. - Six Western Illinois pitchers combined to walk 13 Bradley batters and hit three more with pitches, but the Braves (19-12) were unable to capitalize, stranding 16 runners in a 6-4 road loss against the Leathernecks (9-22) Wednesday afternoon at Al D. Boyer Stadium.
Western Illinois rightfielder Anthony Kaskadden broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning with a 2-run home run against Bradley reliever Danny Gifford (3-3), helping the Leathernecks earn a split in the 4-game season series. The Braves took 2-of-3 from WIU April 1-3 at O'Brien Field.
Bradley loaded the bases in two of the first three innings, but did not score until the fourth inning when Brian Martin drew a 2-out walk, stole second and scored on a Rob Elliott single to pull within 2-1.
After giving the run back in the bottom of the fourth, Bradley took a 4-3 lead by scoring three runs in the seventh. Following consecutive walks to Jerrod Eigsti and Derek Sprout to open the seventh, the runners advanced on a Jason Leblebijian sacrifice. Eigsti scored on a David Compitello ground out and Bob Schuch's single plated Sprout with the tying run. The Braves again loaded the bases when Martin was hit by a pitch and Elliott walked, but after Schuch scored on a passed ball, the Braves were unable to do any more damage.
The Leathernecks scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh for a 4-4 tie, then went ahead for good on Kaskadden's first home run of the year in the eighth.
The top three hitters in the Bradley order - Martin, Elliott and left fielder Mike Tauchman - reached base 12 times on eight walks, two hit-by-pitches and two hits - but only Martin scored. The Braves ended the game 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
Bradley will start a season-long 8-game home stand this weekend by hosting Interstate 74 rival Illinois State at O'Brien Field. The series will start with a 6 p.m. game Friday and will be followed by a 2 p.m. game Saturday and a 1 o'clock contest Sunday.