PEORIA, Ill. --The Bradley baseball evened its record at 12-12 with a 5-1 victory over visiting Illinois-Chicago Wednesday afternoon at O’Brien Field. The Braves pounded out 13 hits, highlighted by junior Grant Escue’s (Washington, Ill./Washington/Stanford) 3-for-5 effort and Colby Luttrell’s (Kincaid, Ill./South Ford) 3-for-4 outing.
In addition to the Braves offensive exploits, Bradley also benefited from a solid outing by senior pitcher Lendsey Thomson (Springfield, Mo./Parkview/Missouri), who scattered six hits over six innings and gave up just one run and two walks as he improved to 3-1 on the season.
Bradley (12-12 overall) threatened in the first and second inning but left two runners on base in both frames. UIC (15-9 overall) scored the first run of the day in the top of the third inning. Rafael Garcia had a one our double to left field and came around to score on a two-out single off the bat of Ty Rubio to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Escue and Luttrell would help Bradley take the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Escue led off with a single and junior Dan Brewer (Brookfield, Ill./Lyons Township) and Luttrell each followed with singles of their own to plate Escue with the tying run. With runners at first and third junior Mike Brumleve (Teutopolis, Ill./Teutopolis/Lincoln Land C.C.) put Bradley ahead by a run with a sacrifice fly to center which was caught by a diving Steve McGuiggan for UIC. The Braves had a chance to blow the game open after loading the bases, but UIC hurler Chris Kovacevich got out of the jam surrendering just two runs.
The Braves once again loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but UIC reliever Peter Ifft escaped unscathed as Bradley left 10 runners on base in the first four frames.
BU finally broke through for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bradley had a runner on first with two outs when things unraveled for UIC. Pinch hitter Jim Clayton (Chatham, Ill./Chatham Glenwood/Southeast Missouri State) drew a walk and junior Tommy Fitzgerald (Lenexa, Kan./Mill Valley/Fort Scott C.C.) followed with a run scoring single. Sophomore Matt Fritz (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North/DePauw) laced a single through the left side of the infield to load the bases. Freshman Rob Elliott (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) provided the big hit with a single up the middle that scored two more runs to push the Braves lead to 5-1.
Senior Chris Wright (Rochester, Ill./Rochester/Parkland) pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth innings, giving up just a single and a walk, while junior Kori Jenson (Wichita, Kan./Goddard/Hutchinson County) retired the side in order in the top of ninth for the Braves to help preserve the victory.
Bradley will continue its season long nine-game homestand Friday when the Braves open a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series against Creighton. First pitch for Friday’s contest against the Bluejays is scheduled for 6 p.m. at O’Brien Field.