NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A day after tying the school record with three doubles in a game, Bradley third baseman Curtiss Bunch drove in a go-ahead run in the sixth inning and scored the winning run in the 11th, leading the Braves (7-9) to a 4-3 win at Belmont (13-5) Saturday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park.
Freshman left-hander Brent Stong (3-1) pitched 4.0 scoreless innings and worked out of an 11th-inning jam to earn the win as the Braves collected their fourth consecutive win and improved to 7-4 in their last 11 games.
After Bradley failed to plate the go-ahead run after putting runners at 1st and 2nd with one out in both the ninth and 10th innings, Bunch opened the 11th inning by being hit by a pitch. After a Nolan Sponsler sacrifice moved Bunch into scoring position, Brady Wilkin flew out, but left fielder Mike Tauchman delivered the go-ahead run with a base hit to right.
Sophomore left-hander David Koll turned in a quality start for the Braves, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts in his 6.0 innings of work.
Held in check through the first five innings, Bradley broke through for three runs against Belmont starter Austin Coley in the sixth. Greg Partyka started the rally by drawing a one-out walk, Paul Solka followed with a single to left field and the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. After catcher Derek Sprout was hit by a pitch to load the bases, shortstop Tyler Leffler tied the game at 2-2 with a 2-run double to right. Bunch followed with a ground ball to third to plate Sprout for the 3-2 lead.
A pair of singles sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt in the seventh against Bradley reliever Eric Scheuermann allowed the Bruins to tie things up, but Belmont did not threaten again until the bottom of the 11th. Stong allowed only one hit and struck out four in his 4.0 innings of work, but he walked two and committed a balk in the 11th to put runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs before inducing a game-ending ground out.
The Braves will shoot for their fifth consecutive win Sunday at noon at Lipscomb. Sophomore right-hander Stephen Toma (1-0) is Bradley’s scheduled starter.
NOTES: Tauchman finished 2-for-6 Saturday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games … Partyka drew a walk in five plate appearances and now has reached base safely in 15 consecutive games … Though 0-for-4 at the plate, center fielder Max Murphy was one of three Braves to be hit by a pitch and he has been on base in every game this season … Leffler was 2-for-5 and he has been on base in 10 consecutive games, giving the Braves three players with active double-digit reached-base-safely streaks (Murphy reached on a fielder’s choice in one game earlier this season) … Since giving up four runs in 1.1 innings in his college debut, Stong has worked 10.2 innings in his last four appearances without allowing a run, surrendering only two hits and striking out 14 in his last four outings.