Rob Elliott hit two home runs Saturday afternoon at Belmont
Rob Elliott hit two home runs Saturday afternoon at Belmont
Braves Ride Long Balls to Two Wins
Release: Monday 02/25/2012 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Shortstop Jason Leblebijian drove in seven runs in the opener against Arkansas-Little Rock and second baseman Rob Elliott hit a pair of solo home runs in a 2-1 win at Belmont, leading Bradley (3-2) to a pair of college baseball victories Saturday at Rose Park.

Leblebijian was 3-for-6 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI's to pace the Braves in Saturday morning's 19-3 romp against UALR (4-2).  The Braves also got home runs from reserve second baseman David Compitello and centerfielder Max Murphy in the opener against the Trojans.

The 19 runs were the most the Braves had scored against a NCAA Division I opponent since a 24-2 win against Cornell March 18, 2006 in Bradenton, Fla. 

The offensive outburst was more than enough for senior left-hander Joe Bircher (1-0), who held the Trojans scoreless on just one hit through the first eight innings.  Bircher, who began the week 12th nationally with 196 career strike outs, fanned a career-best 11 hitters before tiring in the ninth and ultimately allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits in 8.1 innings.  He joins Collin Walker (2003-06) in a tie for ninth on Bradley's all-time list with 207 career strikeouts.

The Braves turned right around to face host Belmont and got another gem from junior right-hander John Nasshan (2-0), who allowed only one run on four hits with six strikeouts in his 6.0 innings of work.  Three Bradley relievers - Rob Kennedy, Jacob Booden and Danny Gifford - did the rest, each tossing 1.0 inning and allowing no hits and only one walk to close out the game.  Gifford's scoreless ninth gave him his second save in as many chances to open the season.

Elliott quickly extended his hitting streak to seven games by greeting Belmont starter Chase Brookshire (0-1) with a leadoff home run to start the game.  Belmont answered with a pair of singles and a walk to tie the score, 1-1, in the bottom of the first, but Nasshan induced a double play ground ball to end the inning.

Though the Braves outhit their hosts, 7-4, Bradley did not score again until Elliott homered again to lead off the sixth inning, the third time he has hit two home runs in a game in his career.

Bradley will close out the weekend trip to Nashville with a 10:30 a.m. game Sunday against UALR.  The Braves will return to the Volunteer State next weekend for a 3-game series at Memphis.

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