EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Bradley pitchers had held Evansville scoreless for 16.0 innings, but the host Purple Aces (26-17, 7-7 MVC) broke through for four runs with two outs in the eighth inning Saturday for a 4-2 win against the Braves (23-17-1, 6-8 MVC) to knot their weekend series at one game apiece.
Evansville rallied against Bradley reliever Rob Kennedy (0-3), who surrendered a one out walk and a 2-out hit-by-pitch, before uncorking a wild pitch that put the tying runs in scoring position. Trentt Copeland delivered a 2-run single through the left side of the infield, then took second on the throw home. Andy Lasher followed with the go-ahead single and tacked on an insurance run by scoring on Tim Bodine's base hit.
The teams were locked in a scoreless pitching duel until the Braves broke through for a run in the seventh inning. Shortstop Jason Leblebijian opened the seventh with a double, advanced to third on a Derek Sprout flyout and scored on a Bob Schuch sacrifice fly.
Bradley added a second run in the top of the eighth after David Compitello drew a leadoff walk from reliever Josh Biggs (4-1). Chris Godinez beat out a bunt, but the Braves did not capitalize until Greg Partyka came through with an RBI single up the middle.
After Friday starter Joe Bircher held Evansville scoreless over the final 8.1 innings in Bradley's 7-2 win in the series opener, Braves starter Justin Ziegler tossed 5.0 shutout innings to start Saturday's game by allowing only four hits and striking out three. Patrick Flanagan added 1.2 scoreless innings and Kennedy got the final out of the seventh, as well as the first two outs of the eighth, to extend the streak to 16.0 scoreless innings before the Aces broke through.
Kyle Lloyd also was impressive, allowing one run on five hits with six strikeouts in his 7.0 innings.
The teams will play the rubber game in their 3-game series with a 1 p.m. finale Sunday at Braun Stadium.