SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --Bradley worked over Missouri State’s pitching staff for 15 hits and the Braves (14-12, 2-4) got a solid relief efforts from Brad Altbach and Chris Wright to salvage the final game of a weekend Missouri Valley Conference series, winning 9-8 Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field.
Led by a 3-hit performance from senior second baseman Ryan Curry, Bradley No. 2 through No. 7 hitters each produced multiple hits and six different Bradley hitters came through with a run batted in. Altbach, a freshman righthander, improved to 5-2 by allowing three runs in 5.0 innings of relief, while Wright worked hard for the save, tossing the final 2.1 innings.
The back-and-forth nature of the game started early as the Braves answered Ryan Mantle’s solo home run in the first with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Mike McMillan and Bryan Porter delivered run-scoring singles to give Bradley a 2-1 lead.
The Bears came right back with four runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by four straight two-out walks from Bradley starter Jon Goebel. Altbach relieved after the last two Goebel walks put the Bears back in front, 3-2, and the freshman immediately gave up a 2-run single to Mantle. He then a hit a batter before settling in and getting the final out.
Bradley pulled even, 5-5, with three runs in the third. Paul Rice, Dan Brewer and Curry opened the third with singles to load the bases and Rice came home when MSU first baseman Josh Mazzola threw the ball away after catching a Ryan Eigsti foul ball. Colby Luttrell and McMillan followed with RBI singles to force the tie.
Missouri State again pulled ahead, 6-5, with a run in the bottom of third when Tann Mattson brought home Shane Elenz from second with a two-out single. Curry pulled Bradley even with an RBI double in the fourth and Eigsti put the Braves ahead for good, 7-6, with an RBI ground out.
With Altbach taking control on the mound, Bradley pushed its lead to 9-6 with two more runs in the sixth. Brad Jones opened the sixth by reaching on an error and Rice moved him around to third with a single to right centerfield. Brewer plated Jones with a sacrifice fly and after Curry grounded out, Eigsti drove home what proved to be the deciding run with a double to right centerfield.
The Bears began to chip away at their deficit in the bottom of the sixth when Nolan Keane led off the frame with a solo homer. Mattson delivered another run-scoring single with two outs in the seventh, chasing Altbach and pulling MSU within 9-8. Junior Chris Wright relieved Altbach and after walking Ben Woodbury to put the go-ahead run on base, he struck out Keane to end the seventh.
Wright allowed an eighth-inning single and a ninth-inning walk, but kept the Bears off the board the rest of the way to earn the save.
Bradley will return to action with a pair of mid-week games against the Big Ten Conference, visiting Illinois Tuesday and hosting Northwestern Wednesday in a 7 p.m. contest at O’Brien Field. The Braves will return to the road next weekend for a 3-game Valley series at Creighton.