NORMAL, Ill. - Playing on his old high school field, Bloomington, Ill., native Mike McMillan tripled and scored on David Compitello's single in the 14th inning, lifting Bradley (18-29, 6-12 MVC) to an 8-7 Missouri Valley Conference baseball victory against Interstate 74 rival Illinois State (26-20, 14-4 MVC) Sunday afternoon at Duffy Bass Field.
The 14-inning contest was the second-longest of the season for Bradley (15 innings April 2 at Southern Illinois), but was the longest game by innings in the history of the Bradley-Illinois State series.
After Illinois State battled from a 6-4 deficit by scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, Bradley took a 7-6 lead in the 13th when Matt Fritz reached on an error, advanced to second on a Rob Elliott sacrifice and scored on a Phil Kaiser single. The Redbirds came right back in the bottom of the 13th, though, also benefitting from a leadoff error. Ryan Court came home on Jake Thornton's one-out double, but the Redbirds were unable to punch the winning run home against sophomore Justin Ziegler (1-1). With runners at second and third and two outs and the nation's leader in on-base percentage, Kevin Tokarski, at the plate, Ziegler was summoned from the bullpen and got Tokarski to ground out to third. Ziegler then retired the heart of the ISU in order in the 14th to nail down the win.
The Braves grabbed the early lead when center fielder Brian Martin drew a two-out walk in the first, stole second and scored on Kevin Sullivan's single up the middle. But the benefitted from a pair of walks during a four-run outburst in the second. Chad Hinshaw tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI double down the left field line and Kevin Tokarski put the Redbirds on top with a 2-out, 2-run single. Tokarski promptly stole second and came home on Ty Weisemeyer's single for a 4-1 lead.
Bradley starter Kori Jensen kept the hosts off the board for the remainder of his five innings, however, allowing the Braves to rally. The Braves pulled to within 4-3 by scoring twice in the fifth. David Compitello opened the fifth with a walk, took second on a balk, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a second balk. In between, Matt Fritz drew a walk and scored on a Martin single.
Bradley reclaimed the lead with two more runs in the sixth. Jason Leblebijian's RBI single made it 4-4 and Fritz put the Braves on top with a sacrifice fly.
Martin led off the seventh with a home run for a 6-4 Bradley lead, but the Redbirds plated single runs in the bottom of the seventh and the eighth to again draw even. The Braves had a runner at second base with one out in both the eighth and ninth innings, but could not push across the winning run in regulation.
After going down in order in the 10th, Rob Elliott dropped a two-out double down the right field line in the 11th, but after Martin was intentionally walked and Kevin Sullivan was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Phil Kaiser grounded out to end the threat.
Bradley will close out the regular season with four straight home games, beginning with the non-conference finale Tuesday evening versus Eastern Illinois at O'Brien Field. The Braves will host Valley rival Indiana State Thurday (6 p.m.), Friday (2 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.) at O'Brien Field in the season's final series before heading to Wichita, Kan., for the 2010 State Farm MVC Tournament May 25-29.
Notes: After going 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk, a sacrifice and two runs scored during the first nine innings, Bradley junior center fielder Brian Martin was intentionally walked in all three of his plate appearances in extra innings ... Martin finished the 3-game series 7-for-10 (.700) with five walks, a hit by pitch, a sacrifice bunt and a .816 on-base percentage in his 17 plate appearances ... Nine of the 10 Bradley hitters to get a plate appearance in the game got at least one hit ... Although Matt Fritz was 0-for-5, he walked once, was hit by a pitch and scored two runs ... Five Bradley pitchers combined to hit seven ISU hitters