Baseball Aces fall in finale to Bradley

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After battling Bradley through four tight innings, the University of Evansville baseball team couldn’t keep up, as the Braves bats exploded to take a 14-3 victory in the series finale, Sunday afternoon at Charles H. Braun Stadium.

Purple Aces freshman starting pitcher Jace Burke (0-4) pitched a scoreless opening frame, however Bradley would get to him in the second inning. Back-to-back singles and a one-out walk loaded up the bases for the Braves. The right-hander appeared to be working his way out of the jam, striking out Eli Rawlinson. However, one strike away from ending the threat, Burke got touched up for a two-run single by Keaton Rice, putting Bradley out in front early. Burke would strike out Luke Shadid capping the inning.

Evansville would respond in the fourth frame, breaking through against Braves starting pitcher Sam Lund. With two outs in the books, sophomore center fielder Kenton Crews began the rally with a single left. Freshman designated hitter Tanner Craig followed that up with a single to right, pushing Crews over to third. Then, junior right fielder Matt Jones drove in Crews with the Aces’ third straight single, putting UE on the board, 2-1.

However, the joy was short-lived. Bradley would put the first two runners aboard with a single and a walk, combined with a passed ball, putting runners on the corners. That would chase Burke from the game, as senior reliever Hunter Porterfield came in in relief. However, his luck was no better, as a Derek Bangert grounder bounced off the third base umpire, loading up the bases. Next, Porterfield uncorked a wild pitch, bringing in Luke Mangieri, pushing the Braves lead to 3-1. Next, Andy Shadid singled in Andrew Ivelia, making it 4-1 Bradley. Another wild pitch by Porterfield brought in Bangert with the third run of the inning, and the Aces were in a 5-2 hole.

Porterfield would give way to senior reliever Jimmy Ward in the sixth. After hitting Luke Shadid with a pitch, Ward got tagged for an RBI triple by Luke Mangieri, driving up the Braves lead to 6-1.

The following inning would see Bradley explode at the plate, as relievers Nathan Croner, Dalton Horstmeier and David Ellis couldn’t put the Braves uprising down before eight runs crossed the plate on seven hits, and when the smoke cleared, Evansville was down 14-1.

Facing being run-ruled, the Aces bats came back in the bottom of the seventh, led by junior second baseman Sam Troyer’s RBI double down the left field line. Senior third baseman Stewart Nelson would draw Evansville closer with an RBI ground out, tallying sophomore shortstop Craig Shepherd. However, that’s as close as the Aces would get, as the game ended in the seventh on a Dalton Horstmeier strikeout.

The loss drops Evansville to 6-23, while Bradley improves to 20-9.

The Purple Aces next head down to Nashville for an out of conference showdown with Vanderbilt of the SEC, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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