BRADLEY BASEBALL GAME NOTES
GAME 26: Bradley Braves (13-11-1) at Illinois Fighting Illini (15-10)
TUESDAY, APRIL 3 | 4:05 P.M. | CHAMPAIGN, ILL. | ILLINOIS FIELD
Bradley will continue a 4-game road stretch Tuesday when the Braves visit Illinois at Illinois Field ... The game is being played just six days after the Illini earned a 6-3 win at Bradley Wednesday at O'Brien Field ... Tuesday's game will feature the same starting pitching matchup, Bradley senior left-hander Tory Doerr (pronounced DARE) against Illinois senior right-hander Nick Chmielewski ... Tuesday's game will be Bradley's 12th true road game of the season and the 24th of 26 games to date this season played away from home ... Bradley is 7-4 to date on the road and 13-9-1 overall away from home ... Following Tuesday's game at Illinois, the Braves will return home to play six of their next seven games at O'Brien Field, beginning with a weekend series against Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Missouri State ... Tuesday's game will be the final contest in a 9-game stretch against teams from the state of Illinois and the Braves are 3-5 in the first eight games against Illinois-Chicago (0-1), Southern Illinois (1-2), Illinois (0-1) and Western Illinois (2-1).
Series History Against Illinois
Illinois leads 41-19-1 | Road: Illinois leads 23-7-1 | Current Streak: Illinois W1
Notes: With series records dating back to 1927, Illinois owns a 41-19-1 record against the Braves ... Since 1996, however, Bradley owns an 8-6 record against the Illini, including a 3-3 record at Illinois Field ... Coming off last week's 6-3 win at O'Brien Field, Illinois is shooting for a regular-season sweep against the Braves.
Bradley played its first 17 games away from home and the Braves are scheduled to play just 16 of their 52 regular-season games at O'Brien Field ... With two mid-week home games now out of the way, Bradley will not play a weekend home game until hosting Missouri State Friday-Sunday ... The 2012 Braves are 7-4 in true road games, already surpassing their road victory total from any of the last three seasons ... The 16 scheduled home games are Bradley's fewest since the Braves recorded a 9-7 home record in 1997.
Living in Land of Lincoln
Bradley is completing a 9-game stretch against in-state rivals and the Braves are just 3-5 in the first eight games of the home state stretch ... Since the Braves earned a 7-4 win against Illinois April 5, 2011 at O'Brien Field, Bradley is 5-15 in its last 20 games against teams from the state of Illinois ... The Braves have won three of their last five against their state rivals, though, including the final two games in the series this past weekend at Western Illinois.
Saturday's 15-9 win at Western Illinois gave the Braves a final 9-8-1 record in March ... Bradley enjoyed an 11-4 (.733) record last March, giving the Braves a combined 20-12-1 (.621) record the last two Marches.
Two 15-Run Outbursts
Bradley's 15-9 win Saturday at Western Illinois was its biggest scoring output since the 19-3 win Feb. 25 against UALR in Nashville, Tenn. ... The 15 runs Saturday were the most by the Braves in a true road game since a 15-8 victory at Eastern Illinois April 22, 2009 ... Bradley had not scored at least 15 runs twice against NCAA Division I competition in the same season since folllowing a 21-3 rout against Toledo with a 16-3 triumph against Long Island March 13-14, 2005 in Jacksonville, Fla. ... With at least 29 games left in the season, Bradley has not put up 15 runs three times in a season since 2004 (four times).
Welcome Back, Mike
Junior left fielder Mike Tauchman, who led the Braves with a .343 batting average and 32 RBI's in 2011, had managed only four at-bats in the previous 14 games due to a hamstring injury before returning to the starting lineup Friday at Western Illinois ... Tauchman returned to the starting lineup Friday and showed little rust in the weekend series at Western Illinois ... Tauchman was 5-for-13 (.385) in the series and delivered the big blow in Sunday's series decider by lacing a 3-run double in the seventh inning to put the Braves in front, 4-2, in the eventual 7-4 win.
Elliott Still on the Shelf
While junior left fielder Mike Tauchman made his way back from a hamstring injury for the weekend series at Western Illinois, the Braves have played the last seven games without this year's leading hitter and run-producer, senior second baseman Rob Elliott ... Elliott came out of the March 21 game against UIC after just one at-bat with a hamstring injury and has not played in the last seven games ... Elliott is Bradley's active career leader in most every offensive category and still leads the 2012 Braves with 27 hits, 22 runs scored and five stolen bases.
Despite the injuries to the team's top two hitters, Bradley is averaging 5.6 runs per game in 2012 ... Hitting that average mark is significant, as the Braves are 9-0-1 this season when scoring more than five runs ... Conversely, the Braves are 4-11 when scoring five runs or fewer.
Including three home runs Saturday, Bradley has belted 21 home runs in 25 games this season ... The Braves are currently on pace for 45 home runs this season, which would be the most by the Braves since 2001, when the Braves went deep 68 times.
Two Bradley freshmen are making a significant offensive impact this season ... Center fielder Max Murphy is the team's second-leading hitter with a .333 average and leads the team with five home runs, 13 walks, a .595 slugging percentage and a .456 on-base percentage ... Most notably, Murphy has reached base safely via a hit (19 games) or a walk (six games) in each of Bradley's first 25 games this season ... Filling in for the injured Rob Elliott in the last seven games, freshman second baseman Chris Godinez has hit .452 with eight runs scored, a .514 on-base percentage and four stolen bases.
Starters Bounce Back
Defined as at least six innings permitting no more than three earned runs, Bradley's starting pitching had contributed only six "quality starts" in the season's first 22 games ... The starters entered the weekend series at Western Illinois with a combined 6-7 record with a 5.30 ERA and .297 opponent batting average in those first 22 games ... During the three games in Macomb, starters Joe Bircher, Justin Ziegler and John Nasshan were 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA and .219 opponent batting average.
Bullpen Steps Up
While the starters have struggled early on, the Bradley bullpen has excelled through the season's first 25 games ... Ten Bradley pitchers have combined for a 6-4 record and five saves out of the bullpen with a collective 3.94 ERA and .253 opponent batting average ... As relievers, six Bradley pitchers sport earned run averages below the starters' combined ERA of 4.77.
A trio of right-handers have developed into a late-game door-closer for the Braves ... Junior Rob Kennedy has emerged as a middle innings stopper, followed by setup man Jacob Booden and closer Danny Gifford ... Kennedy had appeared in just five games in his first two seasons, going 0-2 with a 12.38 ERA in a total of just 8.0 innings ... So far in 2012, Kennedy is 0-1, but leads the staff with 13 appearances and sports a 2.16 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16.2 innings ... Primarily used as a starter in his first three seasons, Booden has come out of the pen for each of his 12 appearances this year and is 1-1 with a 0.66 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13.2 innings ... Last year's set up man, Gifford is 3-0 with four saves in his 10 appearanes, sporting a 2.51 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 14.1 innings ... Together, the trio has racked up 52 strikeouts in 44.2 innings, an average of 10.48 K's per nine innings, and sports a 1.81 ERA.
Sophomore catchers Austin Jarvis and Derek Sprout are making life difficult for would-be base stealers ... The duo has combined to throw out 16-of-32 (.500) runners trying to steal, including one each to end consecutive games against Yale (March 11) and Fairfield (March 12) ... Runners are just 11-for-23 against Jarvis, who now has thrown out 21-of-41 runners trying to steal against him in his first two seasons.
For a complete preview of Tuesday's baseball game versus Illinois, click the above link to the PDF version of Bradley's Game Notes Package.