After needing 54 pitches to get through the first three innings, Christl suddenly found his control and breezed through the Salukis lineup through the final six innings, improving to 2-5 on the season and finishing with 119 total pitches. His turning point appeared to come in the third after Aaron Roberts led off the inning with a sharp single up the middle. SIU first baseman
After Southern Illinois scored its lone run in the first on a RBI single by Valley hitting co-leader Mark Kelly, the Braves gave Christl all of the run support he would need with a three-run outburst in the second. Justin Carr started the inning with a walk and pitcher Jordan Powell overran Ryan Eigsti’s sacrifice bunt to put runners at first and second with no outs. Luttrell followed with a run-scoring double into the left field corner, and after Mike McMillan flew out, designated hitter Jason Acevedo looped a base hit into left field. Dean Cademartori tried to make a diving catch, but the ball dipped under his glove and rolled to the warning track for a 2-run double, Acevedo’s first career extra-base hit.
Bradley tacked on a second unearned run in the third inning when Paul Rice reached on a throwing error by Salukis shortstop Michael Finigan, advanced to second on Ryan Curry’s ground out and scored on a Justin Carr single.
The Braves completed the scoring with two more runs in the seventh, beginning with a RBI single from Rice. After Rice was picked off Curry finally chased Powell with a bad-hop single over Finigan’s head. Relief pitcher Daniel Wells got Carr to hit a high fly ball into shallow center field, but Koski never saw the ball, allowing Curry to score from first on Carr’s 150-foot double.
The teams will meet again Saturday at 6 p.m. at O’Brien Field and will conclude the three-game set with a 1 p.m. contest Sunday. Bradley sophomore right-hander Collin Brennan (1-4, 4.97 ERA) is expected to face Salukis ace Cody Adams (8-2, 2.58 ERA) Saturday night.