PEORIA, Ill. - Designated hitter Brad Kimball hit a 2-run double and second baseman Jerrod Eigsti followed with a 2-run single to a key a 4-run seventh inning outburst that launched Bradley (14-6) to its fifth consecutive win, a 9-4 decision against Purdue (14-8) in the home opener for the Braves Friday evening at O'Brien Field.
Bradley starting pitcher Joe Bircher (3-2) got off to a rocky start by allowing a pair of first-inning runs, but settled down to earn the win by tossing seven strong innings in the opening game of a 3-game weekend series. Bircher scattered six hits and struck out three, while allowing four runs, three earned, in his 7.0 innings. Junior right-hander Danny Gifford kept the Boilermakers off the board in the final two innings to nail down the victory.
After Purdue forged a 4-4 tie in the top of the seventh on Stephen Talbott's run-scoring single, Bradley struck right back in the home half of the inning. Right fielder Bob Schuch drew a leadoff walk against Purdue reliever Blake Mascarello (0-3). Nick Wittgren became Purdue's third pitcher of the day, and after center fielder Brian Martin executed a sacrifice bunt, the Braves loaded the bases on a Rob Elliott walk and a catcher's interference call during Mike Tauchman's at bat.
Kimball gave the Braves the lead for good, 6-4, by ripping a double inside the bag at third base to plate Schuch and Elliott. Eigsti followed with a base hit up the middle to chase Elliott and Tauchman home, pushing the lead to 8-4.
Freshman first baseman Derek Sprout (2-for-4) and Schuch (2-for-3) led Bradley's 10-hit attack, each with a pair of hits. Sprout's single leading off the third was Bradley's first hit of the day and he eventually came around to score on a Martin ground out to get the Braves within 3-1.
The second game of the weekend series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at O'Brien Field, but fans are encouraged to monitor the Bradley Athletics website, www.BradleyBraves.com, for the game's status due to inclement weather conditions expected in the area.