TERRE HAUTE —
Momentum was the only thing riding on Indiana State’s baseball game against Bradley on Friday. With a five-game winning streak going, ISU wanted to keep the good vibes going into next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU couldn’t do it.
A sloppy first inning in the field, an off-night by starting pitcher Devin Moore and a Bradley bullpen that was determined to end its MVC misery all conspired against the Sycamores. The Braves ended a 16-game MVC losing streak with an 8-6 victory at Bob Warn Field.
ISU fell to 23-23 and lost a chance to finish at .500 in the MVC as its league mark fell to 8-11. Bradley won its first MVC game since an 8-5 victory over Evansville on March 31. Bradley had been swept by Creighton, Wichita State, Missouri State, Illinois State and Southern Illinois in its previous series.
ISU was able to get hits (10, half against Bradley starter Brent Stong), but couldn’t string them together to get enough runs.
ISU also gave away some runs with shoddy defense in the first inning. After Bradley’s Mike Tauchman, the nation’s leading hitter at .439, reached base via a single, Max Murphy also reached after Tauchman beat a would-be force-out throw to second and Murphy beat the subsequent throw to first.
Two batters later, Josh Camalick — who was 4 for 5 — singled to left field. Tauchman never stopped running from second when ISU shortstop Tyler Wampler briefly lost the ball. Wampler’s throw home to ISU catcher Mike Fitzgerald was on time, but Tauchman knocked the ball out of Fitzgerald’s glove in a home-plate collision to make it 1-0.
On the next at-bat, another Bradley run scored on a double error by ISU. First baseman Robby Ort bobbled a grounder and Derek Hannahs threw the ball away to score Murphy to make it 2-0.
ISU would recover with three in the first. Koby Kraemer’s two-run double and Connor McClain’s RBI single put ISU up 3-2.
But Moore wasn’t sharp and Bradley pounced with four runs in the third inning. A leadoff solo home run by Murphy tied it and the Braves subsequently struck for five more base hits in the inning. When it was over, the Braves led 6-3.
Moore pitched just 22⁄3 innings and allowed five earned runs and nine base hits.
ISU’s offense would respond again over the course of two innings.
After Kraemer — who was 3 for 5 — doubled, Jordan Pearson drove him in with a RBI single to make it 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth.
ISU tied it in the fifth. McClain — who was 2 for 3 with three RBIs — doubled home Ort and Fitzgerald to give ISU new life.
It seemed that ISU had dodged the ramifications of stranding the bases loaded in both innings, but it wasn’t to be. Bradley hit up tiring ISU reliever Josh Negele in the sixth. Consecutive doubles by Murphy and Greg Partyka put the Braves in front after Partyka’s two-bagger knocked in Murphy. Partyka scored on a single by Camalick to make it 8-6.
When Bradley turned to reliever Patrick Flanagan in the fourth inning, ISU had to like its chances given that Flanagan had a 14.81 ERA entering the contest. But the sidearmer bore down and stymied the Sycamores. He allowed just two hits over 41⁄3 innings and struck out four.
ISU would not score against Bradley reliever Elliot Ashbeck in the ninth either. The Braves’ long wait for a MVC victory was over.
The teams will conclude the regular season at 1 p.m. today. Greg Kuhlman is expected to start for the Sycamores.