TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The leadoff trio of Chris Godinez, Spencer Gaa and Max Murphy combined to go 5-for-6 with four runs scored and four runs batted through the first three innings and Elliot Ashbeck turned in a solid start on the mound, leading seventh-seeded Bradley (24-25) to a 6-2 win against host and second-seeded Indiana State (35-15), capping the first day of action in the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship Tuesday night at Bob Warn Field.
Bradley dealt the tournament host a first-round defeat for the second time in three years (Missouri State in 2012) and earned its first-ever postseason win against Valley rival Indiana State in eight tries. The Braves will take on No. 3 seed Dallas Baptist in the final game of Wednesday's second round, a 7:30 p.m. EST scheduled start at Bob Warn Field. The Patriots won their first-ever MVC Tournament game in walk-off fashion, getting a 10th-inning home run from Drew Turbin for a 3-2 win against Missouri State in Tuesday's third game.
The top of Bradley's order got the Braves off to a fast start. Godinez opened the game with a double into the left centerfield gap and promptly scored on Gaa's single to right center. Godinez hit a 1-out single in the 3rd and came home on Gaa's RBI double to left field. Murphy followed with a towering home run to left center for a 4-0 lead. The home run was Murphy's 12th of the season and moved him into a tie for sixth on Bradley's all-time list with his 27th career dinger.
Ashbeck (6-3) allowed nine hits in his 8.0 innings, but made good pitches in key moments to limit the damage. Indiana State's biggest threat came in the third inning when the Sycamores opened the frame with a single and RBI double from Derek Hannahs to get on the board. The Sycamores went on to load the bases with one out, but Ashbeck got cleanup hitter Mike Fitzgerald to pop out and pinch-hitter Manuel Estevez to fly out to end the inning.
Bradley benefitted from shaky Indiana State defense for two more runs in the sixth. Greg Partyka opened the sixth with a triple after ISU centerfielder Landon Curry lost the high fly ball in a high, dusk sky. Partyka scored when Zimmerman booted a Tyler Leffler ground ball to third. The Braves loaded the bases when Drew Carlile was hit by a pitch and Austin Jarvis followed with a pop up behind first base that the Sycamores failed to catch. Isaac Smith completed Bradley's scoring with a sacrifice fly to plate Leffler.
The Sycamores used a walk and two singles to get one run back in the seventh, but Ashbeck struck out Jacob Hayes to end the inning. Though he recorded only three strikeouts in the game, Ashbeck got another inning-ending strikeout with a runner on base to end the eighth.
Sophomore Eric Scheuermann started the ninth on the mound for the Braves and worked around a leadoff hit-by-pitch and 1-out walk to lock down the win.