MACOMB, Ill. - Junior left fielder Mike Tauchman put the Braves ahead with a 3-run double to highlight a 5-run outburst in the seventh inning and Bradley (13-11-1) rode the big inning to a 7-4 win at Western Illinois (8-14) in the rubber game of the 3-game weekend series at Boyer Stadium.
Bradley won the final two games to earn the series victory and improve to 7-4 in true road games this season.
Though the Braves started slow Sunday, Bradley outhit its host, 12-7, as six different players recorded two hits. The late rally made a winner of redshirt freshman Steve Adkins (1-0), who earned his first career victory by tossing two perfect innings.
Starter John Nasshan turned in a third consecutive strong start by the Bradley starting rotation this weekend, but came out of the game trailing, 2-0. Nasshan allowed two runs on five hits in his 5.0 innings.
Western Illinois starter, Smith (3-2), was perfect through the first three innings and did not allow a hit until second baseman Chris Godinez ripped a 1-out single up the middle in the sixth. Though Tauchman followed with a single, the Braves stranded the two runners at the sixth, but the tide would turn in the seventh.
Freshman center fielder Max Murphy led off the seventh with a single to left, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Bob Schuch's fly ball to right field moved Murphy to third, catcher Derek Sprout put the Braves on the board with a single to left.
First baseman Andrew Wasmund flew out to right, but Smith could not escape the inning. He walked third baseman Curtiss Bunch and surrendered an infield single to Godinez to load the bases, setting the table for Tauchman's big blow, which gave the Braves a 4-2 lead. Following a pitching change, shortstop Jason Leblebijian made it 5-2 with an RBI single up the middle.
Bradley tacked on a pair of insurance runs with a 2-out rally in the ninth. Leblebijian got things started with another single up the middle and Greg Partyka and Murphy followed with consecutive run-scoring doubles.
While Jacob Booden made it three consecutive perfect innings by the bullpen by retiring the three batters he faced in the eighth, closer Danny Gifford struggled through the ninth and allowed the Leathernecks to push across a pair of runs, but he ended the game with a strikeout.
Bradley will return to the road Tuesday for a rematch against Illinois, which earned a 6-3 win against the Braves Wednesday at O'Brien Field. Tuesday's game is set for a 7 p.m. start at Illinois Field. The Braves will return home next weekend for a 3-game Missouri Valley Conference series against league preseason favorite Missouri State.
NOTES: With his seventh-inning single, freshman center fielder Max Murphy reached base safely for the 25th consecutive game to start his Bradley career ... Murphy has hit safely in 19 of the season's first 25 games, including the last four in a row, and he has drawn at least one walk in each of the other six games ... Continuing to fill in for the team's leading hitter, the injured Rob Elliott, freshman second baseman Chris Godinez bumped his average up to .378 by going 2-for-5 Sunday ... Godinez was 8-for-16 during the series at Western Illinois.