PEORIA, Ill. - Both teams scored in only two innings, but Missouri State's pair of 6-run outbursts trumped Bradley's two 1-run innings and the visiting Bears evened the Easter Weekend Missouri Valley Conference series with a 12-2 victory in eight innings Saturday afternoon at O'Brien Field.
Missouri State senior right-hander Clay Murphy (5-1) gave up 10 hits, but allowed only two unearned runs to earn the complete-game victory, while lowering his season earned run average to 1.21. Missouri State's first two starting pitchers in the series (Nick Petree Friday) both have thrown 8-inning complete games without allowing an earned run.
While Bradley countered Petree's effort with Joe Bircher's 12-strikeout performance in Friday's 2-1 win, the Bears cranked up the offense Saturday by banging out 16 hits against a trio of Braves hurlers to end Bradley's 4-game winning streak.
Senior right-hander Justin Ziegler cruised through the first three innings, but Missouri State banged out seven hits in the fourth inning, highlighted by a Spiker Helms 2-run home run that pushed the visiting team to a 6-0 lead and ended Ziegler's day.
Bradley got one run back in the bottom of the fourth, but the Braves missed out on a chance to get back in the game when they came up empty in the sixth after loading the bases with one out. Murphy escaped the jam by striking out right fielder Bob Schuch and getting catcher Austin Jarvis to bounce into a fielder's choice.
Missouri State second baseman Kevin Medrano set an O'Brien Field collegiate record with three doubles and the two teams combined for eight 2-baggers in the game. Bears third baseman Brent Seifert joined Medrano with a 3-for-5 performance, while four Missouri State players and four Braves each recorded two hits.
The teams will play the rubber game in their holiday series with a 1 p.m. game Sunday at O'Brien Field. Admission will be just $1 for the Easter Sunday game and game-day festivities will include an Easter Egg Hunt for children 12 and under, as well as an appearance by the Easter Bunny.