WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Freshman centerfielder Max Murphy hit his fourth home run of the season, drove in two runs and scored three times, helping Bradley (10-5-1) to its fourth consecutive win, an 11-5 decision against Jacksonville State (2-13) Friday evening in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational at Chain O' Lakes Park.
Murphy finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and a double to go with his 2-run homer in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to a team-best 10 games. Right fielder Bob Schuch did his share at the plate, as well, going 2-for-5 with three runs batted in, while junior third baseman Curtiss Bunch hit his first home run as a Brave.
Senior pitcher Justin Ziegler (1-1) picked up his first win of the season by tossing 5.0 strong innings. Ziegler allowed two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four. Freshman Steve Adkins inherited a 5-2 lead and pitched the final 4.0 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on just two hits while striking out five.
Bradley had scored first in 12 of the season's first 15 games, but Jacksonville State became just the second team to score a first-inning run against the Braves when the Gamecocks touched Ziegler for a run in the bottom of the first. Adam Miller drew a one-out walk and back-to-back singles brought home the game's first run.
Murphy helped put Bradley in front for good by legging out a one-out double in the top of the third. After Schuch reached on an error, a Derek Sprout sacrifice brought home Murphy with the tying run. Bunch followed with his 2-run blast to left field for a 3-1 lead the Braves would not relinquish.
Murphy added his 2-run dinger with two outs in the fourth and Bradley stretched the lead to 6-1 in the top of the sixth when catcher Austin Jarvis was hit by a pitch and scored on a Greg Partyka double. Jarvis chipped in with a 2-run double in the seventh. Schuch drove in his first run with a single to complete the 3-run seventh, then put the icing on the scoring with a 2-run single in the ninth.
Bradley, which improved to 5-1-1 at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, will wrap up its participation in the multi-team event Saturday when the Braves take on Nebraska-Omaha in a 5 p.m. game Saturday at Henley Park in Lakeland.
NOTES: In addition to extending his hitting streak to a team season-best 10 games, Murphy has reached safely by either a hit or a walk in all 16 games this season ... Bradley had won each of the previous three games by one run each, the first time the Braves had won three consecutive games by one run each since 1985 and just the fourth time in program history ... Senior second baseman Rob Elliott was 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, but saw his second 7-game hitting streak of the season come to an end ... Bradley improved to 9-0 this season when limiting the opposition to fewer than six runs.