PEORIA, Ill. – Bradley’s early generosity proved too much to overcome as Illinois State (27-16, 9-3 MVC) completed a 3-game weekend sweep with an 8-5 Missouri Valley Conference baseball win at Bradley (14-25, 1-14 MVC) Sunday afternoon at Peoria Chiefs Stadium.
The Redbirds scored two runs in the first inning without the need to put a ball in play, then plated a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning to build a 4-0 lead. Bradley put at least one runner in scoring position in eight of the nine innings, but went just 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12, short-circuiting its comeback attempt.
Bradley starter Stephen Toma (3-3) took the loss by allowing two runs on four walks, a wild pitch and a hit batter in just two-thirds of an inning. Freshman right-hander Eric Scheuermann relieved and got the final out of the first inning and remained effective for the next four innings, despite surrendering seven hits. He had a chance to escape a 4th-inning jam unscathed after a pair of hits put runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out.
Chad Hinshaw hit a line drive to third base that had the potential to result in a double play, but third baseman David Compitello could not come up with the catch, allowing the runner from third to score. Zac Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly for the 4-0 lead.
Bradley scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but faced an 8-2 deficit heading to the eighth. A potential big inning was limited to two runs after Tyler Leffler was hit by a pitch and Curtiss Bunch followed with a double to put runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs to start the eighth. Consecutive ground outs by Isaac Smith and Nolan Sponsler plated the two runners to get Bradley within 8-4.
Facing Illinois State closer Jeremy Rhoades in the ninth, Bradley scored the first earned run of the year against the right-hander and brought the potential tying run to the plate. Left fielder Mike Tauchman, the league’s top hitter with a .414 average to start the day, got the ninth started with a single to complete a 2-for-4 day. A 1-out walk to Austin Jarvis put two runners on and Derek Sprout moved the runners one base with a ground out. Freshman pinch-hitter Elliot Ashbeck delivered an RBI single, but Bunch fouled out to end the game.
Bradley will continue its season-long, 12-game home stand by hosting Northern Illinois Tuesday night at Peoria Chiefs Stadium.