MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Senior infielder Rob Elliott was 3-for-5 with a 2-run triple in the ninth inning, lifting Bradley (5-4) to a 5-4 win at Memphis (5-6) Sunday afternoon at FedEx Park. The Braves took the series, 2-games-to-1, by earning their first last at-bat win of the season.
Bradley scored first for the sixth consecutive game, and the fourth time in the first inning in the last six games, when leadoff man Rob Elliott beat out an infield single, took second on a ground out and scored on an Austin Jarvis single to left.
After Bradley failed to take advantage of Max Murphy's leadoff double in the top of the third, Memphis made the most of Bradley miscues to take the lead. Bryce Beeler reached on a 1-out error and Ethan Gross worked a walk from Bradley starter Justin Ziegler. Following a wild pitch, Adam McClain delivered a 2-run single for a 2-1 Tigers lead.
Designated hitter Greg Partyka immediately pulled Bradley even when he led off the fourth with his second home run of the season and in as many days.
The score remained 2-2 through five innings as both starters settled in. Patrick Bailey struck out seven, allowing two earned runs on five hits in his 5.0 innings, before giving way to Erik Schoenrock to open the sixth. Bradley shortstop Jason Leblebijian greeted the Memphis reliever with a leadoff double to open the sixth and Jarvis put the Braves back on top, 3-2, by following with his second RBI single of the day.
In his longest outing since his freshman season in 2009, Ziegler allowed only two runs, one earned, on four hits through the first five innings, but the Tigers jumped on him for consecutive home runs from Eli Hynes and Derrick Thomas to open the sixth and reclaim the lead, 4-3.
Bradley opened the eighth by putting its first three hitters on base courtesy of a Murphy walk and consecutive bunt singles by Elliott and Leblebijian. Chase Joiner (0-1) relieved and escaped the jam by getting Jarvis to hit into a 5-2-3 double play and pinch-hitter Jerrod Eigsti to line out.
Undeterred, Bradley again put its first two runners on in the ninth thanks to a Bob Schuch leadoff single to left and a Derek Sprout walk. Pinch-hitter Josh Camalick tried to sacrifice, but Schuch was thrown out at third, leaving runners at first and second with one out. After Murphy was caught looking on a 3-2 pitch for the second out, Elliott delivered his 2-run triple into the right centerfield gap to put the Braves on top with the game's fourth lead change.
Closer Danny Gifford (1-0), who pitched a scoreless eighth inning, had to face the top of the Memphis order in the ninth and started poorly by putting the first two hitters on via a walk and a hit by pitch. Jacob Wilson moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt and Gifford intentionally walked Hynes to load the bases, then battled back to strike out Thomas before getting freshman catcher Carter White to pop out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.Bradley will return to action with eight neutral-site games in eight days at the 2012 RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, beginning Friday against Bowling Green.