TERRE HAUTE —
For the first time since February, Indiana State’s baseball team enters a series saddled with a losing streak. The Sycamores head to Bradley to start a three-game series tonight at O’Brien Field.
ISU’s losing streak is modest — a two-game skid after a loss to Creighton last Sunday and a one-run defeat at Indiana on Wednesday — and it’s instrumental for the Sycamores to keep that in mind after a tough-to-swallow 8-7 loss at IU.
The loss to IU stung — the Sycamores dropped out of the top 50 and into the 60s from a RPI standpoint — but the positives for the Sycamores still far outweigh the negatives.
ISU is in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 6-3 mark. ISU’s 26-8 overall record is tied for second-best in school history after 34 games. ISU has also won all of its MVC series thus far.
“We hit a lot of balls hard and we didn’t get all of the breaks. We didn’t play the type of baseball we’re capable of. We know what we can do, flush it and go to this weekend,” said ISU infielder Koby Kraemer on moving forward.
Bradley (17-12-1, 3-3) won’t be an easy nut to crack. The Braves took two of three on the road at MVC favorite Missouri State last weekend. Rob Elliott (.360), Max Murphy (.359) and Greg Partyka (five home runs) are the Braves’ threats at the plate.
Bradley’s team ERA of 4.48 is sixth in the conference. Opponents have hit .277 against them this year. Joe Bircher (2.65) is the only Bradley starter with a sub-4.00 ERA, but he’s been strong. He struck out 12 last Friday in a 2-1 win at Missouri State.
Bradley will also get a rare chance to play on its home field. Friday’s game will be just the fifth Bradley has played at O’Brien Field this season.
“I thought Bradley would be the surprise team in the league. They had all of their pitching back and they had a lot of guys injured early. They’ll be ready,” ISU coach Rick Heller said.
ISU is wracked with several injuries of varying degrees of seriousness though ISU got good news on one front.
Freshman leadoff hitter Landon Curry, who dislocated his left pinky against IU on Wednesday, has swelling in his finger, but is otherwise unimpaired. Curry has been cleared to play tonight.
Dakota Bacus will start tonight’s game, which begins at 7 p.m. Sean Manaea will start Saturday’s 3 p.m. game and Ryan Torgerson gets the call for Sunday’s 2 p.m. contest.
All games in the series will be broadcast on ESPN Radio (92.7-FM and 1300-AM).