PEORIA — Brent Headrick couldn't match the Missouri Valley Conference-leading 1.45 ERA of Bradley's Mitch Janssen entering Friday's game at Dozer Park.
What Headrick could do was match Janssen pitch for pitch. And with the help of John Rave's third-inning solo home run, Headrick bested Janssen with eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 Redbird victory.
"Headrick was as good as can be," said ISU coach Steve Holm. "That was unbelievable out of him."
The Redbirds moved to 29-20 overall and climbed into a tie with Indiana State atop the Valley standings at 11-5. It was the first 1-0 game in the ISU-Bradley series since 1991 and the first 1-0 Redbird win over the Braves since 1970.
Headrick (7-3) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one. Bradley (29-15, 9-7) put the leadoff runner on base against the junior left-hander in five of eight innings but did not have more than one runner on base all evening.
"I was just trying to battle out there and take it one batter at a time and not worry too much about guys on base," said Headrick, who has a 6-0 record and a 1.05 ERA in Valley action. "Go with the hitter and make him make plays."
Holm sent Headrick out for the ninth inning in a very similar situation last week against Indiana State. Headrick closed out a 4-3 complete-game victory.
"We're one day short next week," Holm said of the final league series against Evansville that begins Thursday. "That was in the back of my mind. But he was cruising at the same time so it was tough to take him out."
Colton Johnson began to stretch in the seventh, warmed up in earnest in the eighth and struck out the side on 13 pitches in the ninth for his second save.
"I trusted CoJo," said Headrick. "And he got the job done in the end."
ISU just missed home runs in the first inning when Derek Parola doubled off the left-field wall and in the fifth when Jack Butler did the same. But neither runner crossed the plate.
Rave left no doubt, launching a 1-1 pitch from Janssen off the back fence in right field for his ninth homer of the season.
"It felt pretty good off the bat. I was looking for a good pitch in the zone and happened to get the (bat) head out on one," Rave said. "It's a Friday night in the Missouri Valley. Both arms, both starters were really working it. Their guy threw really well. He had us guessing a lot."
ISU also won the series opener the past two weekends against Dallas Baptist and Indiana State only to drop the final two games and the series.
"We're still hunting to win the Missouri Valley. That's our one thing in mind," said Rave. "We're going to come out tomorrow with more intensity than we've had in the past on Saturday and Sunday."
Janssen (4-2) departed after 5⅔ innings. It was the fifth time in six MVC starts the senior right-hander gave up one or fewer runs.
The series continues Saturday with a 6 p.m. first pitch. The final game begins Sunday at 1 p.m.