PEORIA, Ill. –
Three Bradley pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout of Missouri State, as the Braves registered a 2-0 victory over the Bears to even their key Missouri Valley Conference series at one game apiece Saturday afternoon at Dozer Park.
Mitch Janssen (4-0) shackled the Missouri State (26-13, 9-2 MVC) offense for 6 2/3 innings, retiring 18 straight Bears at one point while striking out a career-high 10 batters and allowing just two hits. Alex Gray and Boby Johnson finished the job for BU, working out of several crucial jams to strand six MSU baserunners over the final three innings.
Johnson recorded perhaps the biggest out of the game to end the Bears' eighth-inning threat, striking out Jeremy Eierman
with the bases load to strand the potential tying and go-ahead runners. The BU closer also allowed a leadoff single to start the ninth, but promptly dispatched the next three MSU hitters to lock up his fourth save and stop the Bears' seven-game Valley win streak.
BU (26-10, 8-3 MVC) seized the lead in the opening inning and never looked back, as Luke Shadid's leadoff single set the stage for what would prove to be the deciding rally. Luke Mangieri drew a walk from MSU starter Logan Wiley
(5-4), before Andrew Ivelia's bunt single loaded the bases. Derek Bangert gave the Braves all the run support they would need with a fielder's choice chopper to third that allowed Shadid to trot home with the game's first tally.
Janssen dominated the afternoon from there, working around Eierman's one-out single in the first and facing the minimum number of hitters through six innings. He would not allow another Bears baserunner until Drew Millas
lined a two-out double to right-center in the seventh.
After Janssen issued his only walk of the afternoon to Ben Whetstone
to put runners at first and second with two out, Gray coolly induced an inning-ending pop foul off the bat of Matt Brown
to preserve the one-run lead.
A pair of Missouri State fielding errors led to the second BU run in the home half of the seventh, as Shadid reached on a routine grounder that eluded John Privitera
at second and Ivelia's bouncer to short was mishandled by Eierman to put runners on the corners with one out. Ian Kristan made it a two-run game with a sacrifice fly to center, before Jake Fromson
retired Brendan Dougherty on a fly ball to center to end the threat.
Despite taking the loss, Wiley turned in a strong performance for MSU, scattering seven hits and allowing just one earned run, while striking out seven Braves in his 6.0 innings. Fromson and fellow reliever Jake Lochner
held BU hitless over the final two innings to give the Bears' offense a chance to mount a late rally.
Millas led the Bears with a 2-for-4 afternoon at the plate, marking his fifth multi-hit performance in the last eight games.
The Bears and Braves will square off in the rubber match of the series Sunday (April 29) afternoon at 1 p.m.