AUBURNDALE, Fla. - Bradley second baseman Rob Elliott continued his torrid hitting, going 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI, leading the Braves (8-5-1) to a 6-5 win against Bucknell (7-6) in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational Wednesday at Lake Myrtle Park.
For the 10th time in the last 11 games, Bradley scored first by pushing three runs across in the top of the first inning. Elliott again led the way, drawing the first of four consecutive walks to start the game. After Bison starter Taylor Runge (0-1) uncorked a wild pitch to plate the second run, Bradley center fielder Max Murphy greeted reliever Russel Seidell with an RBI single for the 3-0 advantage.
Bucknell creeped to within 3-2 by scoring solo runs in the second and third innings against Bradley starter Tory Doerr, but the Braves gained some separation by scoring once in the fifth and twice in the sixth for a 6-2 advantage. Elliott doubled and scored on a Derek Sprout single in the fifth, then drove in the second run of the sixth inning on an infield single.
The extra runs proved necessary after Bucknell scored three times in the home half of the sixth. After three straight singles loaded the bases, reliever Rob Kennedy balked in one run, then threw two wild pitches to allow the final two runs to score.
Kennedy did get a pair of strikeouts to end the sixth, however, then threw a perfect seventh. The combination of Jacob Booden (1-0) and Danny Gifford did the rest by combining to face the minimum in the final two innings. Gifford earned his third save of the season.
The Braves will try for their third consecutive win Thursday when they take on Navy (8-7) in a 5 p.m. (CDT) game at Chain O' Lakes Park in Winter Haven. Senior lefthander Joe Bircher (3-0) is expected to start for Bradley.
NOTES: Bradley's Rob Elliott has hit safely in 13 of the season's first 14 games and he is hitting .538 (14-26) during his current 6-game hitting streak ... Freshman centerfielder Max Murphy extended his hitting streak to a team-best seven games with his first-inning, RBI single ... After Bradley ended the last two games by throwing out a runner trying to steal second, catcher Derek Sprout ended the eighth inning by throwing out Mark Figgie trying to swipe second ... Senior closer Danny Gifford has appeared in five games this season and is 2-0 with three saves in those five outings, posting a 1.23 ERA ... Booden struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the eighth - Figgie reached on a third strike wild pitch - and the opposition is now just 2-for-21 (.095) with 10 strikeouts against the 6-foot-9 righthander in his six appearances.