May 6, 2011
By Jason Clay
PEORIA, Ill. - Bradley pitcher Joe Bircher threw a complete game and allowed just two hits to lead the Braves to a 9-0 blowout victory over the Southern Illinois baseball team on Friday in the series opener at O'Brien Field.
SIU's two hits in the game are the fewest its had in a game in seven years.
The nine-run loss is the biggest defeat Southern (17-28, 7-6 Missouri Valley Conference) has suffered this season and this is just the second time the Salukis have been shutout. The loss also snaps Southern's five-game winning streak over the Braves (21-22, 3-10).
Bircher finished his second complete game of the season with seven strikeouts and no walks. He improved to 6-4 on the year.
Saluki junior Cameron Maldonado dropped to 3-7, as he gave up eight hits and eight runs in 5.1 innings.
Bradley had 10 hits on the evening. Center fielder Brian Martin and catcher James Kottaras both went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and shortstop Jason Leblebiian also drove in two runs on one hit.
Bradley loaded the bases up with no outs in the second on a walk and two bunt singles. It all led to two runs, one scoring on an infield double play and the second on Kottaras' single to center with two outs.
That lead went up to 3-0 in the third on Mike Tauchman's sacrifice fly that scored Rob Elliott.
Bircher meanwhile had the Saluki batters handcuffed. SIU had just one hit and seven strikeouts through six innings.
Bradley then put the game out of reach with a six-run sixth inning that featured six hits when 11 batters came to the plate.