PEORIA, Ill. - Bradley (8-17, 2-6 MVC) scored five of its six runs with two outs, including three in the bottom of the seventh, for a 6-4 Missouri Valley Conference victory over Missouri State (12-18, 1-4 MVC) Saturday afternoon at O'Brien Field.
Senior catcher Kevin Sullivan (Elmhurst, Ill./Oakton J.C./York H.S.) put the Braves up 1-0 in the first with a two-out single to left field that scored sophomore third baseman Rob Elliott (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.). Missouri State tied the game in its half of the second, but Bradley answered with another two-out run in the bottom half to regain the lead. After two quick outs, senior first baseman Mike McMillan (Bloomington, Ill./Normal University H.S.) singled up the middle and scored on a double by freshman shortstop Jason Leblebijian (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) to make the score 2-1.
The Bears plated two runs on three hits in the fifth to gain a 3-2 edge, but Bradley responded by stealing a run in the bottom half to tie the score. Elliott reached on an error by Missouri State shortstop Travis McComack, stole second and advanced to third on an infield single by junior outfielder Brian Martin (Glen Ellyn, Ill./College of DuPage/Lombard Montini Catholic H.S.). With Sullivan at the plate, Martin attempted to steal second, but was caught in a rundown. The speedy junior survived in the pickle long enough for Elliott to score from third to tie the game at 3-3.
Missouri State regained the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Kevin Medrano and held its 4-3 edge until the bottom of the seventh. Leblebijian reached on an error to start the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Matt Fritz (Northbrook, Ill./DePauw University/Glenbrook North H.S.). With the Missouri State infield drawn in, Elliott grounded a ball to McComack and Leblebijian broke for home. McComack fired to the plate just in time to retire the Bradley freshman and preserve MSU's one-run lead.
With two outs in the seventh and Martin at the plate, Elliott swiped his third base of the day to move into scoring position. Elliott's speed paid off, as Martin doubled to right-center field to tie the score at 4-4. The Braves then used back-to-back doubles by Sullivan and sophomore designated hitter Brad Kimball (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.) to plate two more runs in the inning for a 6-4 lead.
Junior right-hander Patrick Cooper (Danville, Ky./Des Moines Area C.C./Boyle County H.S.) entered the game for Bradley in the eighth and held Missouri State hitless in the final two innings to preserve the win, 6-4.
Martin, Sullivan, McMillan and Leblebijian each had two hits for the Braves, while Sullivan finished with two RBI's, including the game-winner. Senior right-hander Kori Jensen (Wichita, Kan./Hutchinson County C.C./Goddard H.S.) earned the win for Bradley, allowing three runs on six hits in 3.1 innings of relief work. Cooper picked up his first save of the season.
The Braves and Bears will wrap up their three-game set Sunday, April 11 at 1 p.m.