NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sophomore Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) went seven and one third innings, allowing only one run and striking out eight as the Belmont baseball team (3-6, 1-0) defeated defending league champion Mercer (9-3, 0-1) by a score of 2-1 in the Bruins' Atlantic Sun Conference opener on Friday afternoon.
"You can't look at a 2-1 game and not see what a great pitching performance it was," head coach David Jarvis said. "What a tremendous start Chase gave us. Then he came back out in the eighth inning to get the first batter out and handed the ball over to our bullpen with only five outs left. I have to tip my cap to Chase on that performance."
Brookshire, who recorded his first win of the season in the victory, allowed only six hits and walked no one as he finished with 96 pitches on 75 strikes. The starter handed the ball off to junior Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.), who got the final two outs of the eighth in facing the next three batters. Senior Jon Ivie (Summertown, Tenn.) then tallied his fourth save of the season as he recorded all three outs in the ninth inning.
The Bruins took their second and final lead of the game in the seventh when junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) drove in sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) with a single through the right side of the infield. Breen scored from second base after doubling on a long shot to left center field an at bat earlier. Both Belmont players tallied two out hits to give BU the 2-1 lead.
"I thought our kids grinded at the plate extremely well," Jarvis continued. "They put together some good at bats throughout the game, but you surely have to recognize Jared Breen when he doubled with the game tied and two outs late in the ball game. He really put things together in that at bat."
Belmont struck first in the contest, taking a 1-0 lead in the third inning. After senior Derek Hamblen (Plano, Texas) reached on an error, the left fielder stole second. Junior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) then recorded the first Bruin triple of the season, scoring Hamblen on the play.
Craig finished with two hits on the day, while Breen, Mitchell, and senior Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.) each tallied one in the victory. Egerton notched his third double of the season during the fourth inning.
The Bruins finished with two runs on five hits and three errors, while Mercer recorded one run on eight hits and one error. Brookshire recorded the win, while Ivie earned the save. The Bears' David Teasley recorded the loss to fall to 2-1 on the season.
"We're facing a very good Mercer team this weekend," Jarvis concluded. "It doesn't look like they dropped off at all from their conference championship season last spring. They're an outstanding club and this is going to be a battle all weekend long."
The two teams are scheduled to play game two of the series on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Shelby Park.