The University of Evansville baseball team staved off visiting Bradley Saturday afternoon at Braun Stadium, as the Purple Aces overcame a three-run deficit en route to a 5-4 victory.
For the second-straight day, Evansville (27-14, 8-3 MVC) came from behind to top Bradley (21-18, 4-10 MVC) behind a 3-for-4 day from sophomore Shain Showers. Showers finished a triple shy of the cycle, scored two runs and drove in three more with a three-run home run in the fourth. Junior Kevin Kaczmarski and sophomore Eric McKibban also tallied multiple hits, as Kaczmarski went 2-for-3 with an RBI and McKibban tallied two hits in four at bats and scored a run.
Sophomore Conor Gilligan (2-0) earned the win on the mound, allowing a run on three hits in an inning of relief and senior Sam Johns picked up his MVC-leading ninth save of the season by logging a scoreless ninth.
The Braves led 3-0 after the top half of the third, as BU manufactured a run in each of their first three at bats. Chris Godinez led off the game with a single through the left side, before scoring on an eventual wild pitch out of the hand of Aces' starter Connor Strain.
Strain, who gave up three runs on five hits in 4.0 innings, also got into some trouble in both the second and third innings, was able to limit the damage in both frames, as Isaac Smith drove home Drew Carlile with a sacrifice fly in the second, before Tyler Leffler plated Spencer Gaa with an RBI single in the third.
UE countered and got a pair of runs back in his half of the third to cut the Bradley advantage to 3-2. Showers led off the frame with a double to the gap in left center, before advancing to third on a wild pitch to sophomore Josh Jyawook, who eventually coaxed a walk. Senior Jake Mahon and Kaczmarski followed with back-to-back RBI singles, before senior Kyle Pollock flied into a double play on a hit and run.
Evansville went ahead for good in the bottom of the fourth, when junior Boomer Synek reached on an error and McKibban doubled down the line in right, before Showers cleared the bases with his one-out, three-run shot over the fence in left to put the Aces in front, 5-2.
The Braves put together a bit of a rally in the sixth, but junior Matt Rodgers and sophomore Brent Jurceka were able to end the threat and hold the Braves to just one run in the inning on a Spencer Gaa two-out RBI single that trimmed UE's lead to 5-4.
Jurceka came up big in the top half of the eighth, as Smith represented the tying run at third base with just one out, after reaching on a walk, stealing second and advancing to third on an error. The sophomore right-hander got the second out, when Godinez struck out looking, before ending the inning with a lazy pop up to short.
BU once again put the tying run in scoring position in the top of the ninth, but Johns was able to work around a walk and an error to lock down the save and hand Evansville the series victory.
The Aces will be looking for a sweep of Bradley tomorrow, when the two teams cap the series with a 1 p.m. game at Braun Stadium. Senior Cole Isom is scheduled to start for UE and sophomore lefty Cameron Roegner will take the ball for the Braves.
Courtesy: UE Sports Information Department
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