LORMAN, Miss. - Bradley rallied with three runs in the eighth, then pushed across five in the 10th inning to secure a 9-4 victory at Alcorn State in the season-opening battle of the Braves Friday afternoon at McGowan Stadium.
Freshman right-hander Matt Dennis (1-0) earned the win by tossing 2.0 shutout innings to close the game and junior right fielder Max Murphy drove in the game-winning run with an RBI single in the 10th.
While sophomore second baseman Chris Godinez and freshman third baseman Spencer Gaa produced at the top of the order, Bradley's 5 through 9 hitters combined for eight hits, five runs scored and six runs batted in. Bradley relievers David Koll (3.1 innings) and Dennis combined to allow just four hits in 5.1 scoreless innings in relief of starter John Nasshan, allowing the offense to rally late.
Bradley grabbed a quick 1-0 lead when Godinez opened the game with a 4-pitch walk, stole second and scored on Gaa's line drive single to left field in the Metamora product's first career at-bat.
Bradley got only one more runner to second base through the next five innings, however, as the host Braves rebounded to forge a 4-1 lead against Nasshan. Though he allowed only four hits, Nasshan walked two and hit two batters and Alcorn State plated two of the free passes. After Nasshan plunked Lewis with two outs and nobody on in the fourth, Alcorn State followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to take a 3-1 lead.
Alcorn pushed the lead to 4-1 in the fifth and Koll came on in relief following Nasshan's 2-out walk. Koll got a fly ball to end the fifth, then worked around a 1-out double in the sixth and a leadoff double in the eighth after the visiting Braves had pulled even.
Bradley started its rally in the top of the eighth with a leadoff walk by Evan Gruener. Gruener took second on Isaac Smith's single and third on a Godinez fly out to right field. Gaa followed with an infield single to make it 4-2. After Murphy flew out to right field, designated hitter Greg Partyka walked to load the bases and shortstop Tyler Leffler delivered a 2-out, 2-run single to tie the score, 4-4.
Godinez started the 10th-inning rally with a leadoff double, and after advancing to third on Gaa's sacrifice bunt, he scored what proved to be the winning run on Murphy's RBI single to left. Bradley tacked on some 2-out insurance on a 2-run double by Austin Jarvis and a 2-run single from Gruener.
The teams will continue their weekend series with another 2 p.m. game Saturday and will close out the 3-game set with a 1 p.m. game Sunday. Junior right-hander Stephen Toma is expected to start Saturday's game on the mound for Bradley.