PEORIA, Ill. - Senior second baseman Matt Fritz (Northbrook, Ill./DePauw University/Glenbrook North H.S.) finished 5-for-6, including a two-out game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, as Bradley (9-17, 3-6 MVC) beat Missouri State (12-19, 1-5 MVC) 9-8 Sunday afternoon at O'Brien Field. Trailing 8-6 in the ninth, the Braves rallied for three runs on three hits to earn their first home Missouri Valley Conference sweep since April 29, 2007.
Senior catcher Kevin Sullivan (Elmhurst, Ill./Oakton J.C./York H.S.) led off the ninth with a single and advanced to second on a single by sophomore designated hitter Brad Kimball (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley H.S.). Freshman Christian Segar (Mendon, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit H.S.) came in to pinch run for Kimball, while Bradley's next batter, freshman left fielder Mike Tauchman (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.), drew a walk to load the bases.
Senior first baseman Mike McMillan (Bloomington, Ill./Normal University H.S.) stepped to the plate and drove a deep fly ball to center field that plated Sullivan, advanced Segar to third and pulled the Braves within one, 8-7. With one out in the ninth, senior Jordan Colvin (O'Fallon, Ill./Southwestern Illinois College/O'Fallon Township H.S.) entered the game as a pinch hitter, but after Tauchman advanced to second on a wild pitch, Missouri State intentionally walked Colvin to load the bases and put the double play in order.
Bradley's next batter, freshman shortstop Jason Leblebijian (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.), tied the game at 8-8 with another sac fly to center field that scored Segar. With the Missouri State outfield drawn in for a play at the plate, Fritz ripped a single to left-center field that scored Tauchman from second and gave the Braves the come from behind victory, 9-8.
Bradley used an RBI groundout by junior center fielder Brian Martin (Glen Ellyn, Ill./College of DuPage/Lombard Montini Catholic H.S.) in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead and went up 2-0 in the second on an RBI single by McMillan. The Braves added another run in the fourth when Leblebijian ripped a one-out RBI single up the middle to make the score 3-0. Missouri State finally broke through in the fifth, plating a run on a wild pitch by senior right-hander Brad Altbach (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North H.S.) to make it a two-run game, 3-1.
The Bears picked up two more runs on two hits in the sixth to tie the score at 3-3, but the Braves answered with three run on three hits in the bottom half to regain the lead, 6-3. Missouri State refused to go away quietly as Kevin Medrano ripped a two-out two-run single to center field in the seventh to pull the Bears within one, 6-5. MSU added three more runs on two hits in the top of the ninth, including a two-run single by Tyler Paxson, for an 8-6 lead. The Braves responded with their own rally in the bottom half to earn the victory, 9-8.
Fritz led all players with five hits, including one double, while Sullivan finished 3-for-5. Fritz, McMillan and Leblebijian each had two RBI's for the Braves. Altbach pitched well in his first start of the season, allowing one earned run on three hits in 5.0 innings. Junior right-hander Patrick Cooper (Danville, Ky./Des Moines Area C.C./Boyle County H.S.) picked up the win for Bradley, scattering three earned runs on three hits in 2.1 innings of relief work.
The Braves will return to action Wednesday, April 14 at home against Western Illinois. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.