NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (9-10, 3-3) scored one run in the ninth inning to tie the game, and then one in the bottom of the 12th to defeat Ball State (2-14, 0-0) by a score of 7-6 on Friday. Junior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and sophomore Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) each went three for five on the day to lead the Bruins at the plate.
With one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, senior Matt Zeblo (Raleigh, N.C.) hit what many thought was a game-winning solo home run, but ended up as a stand up double as the ball caromed off the left field wall. After sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) was intentionally walked to set up a double play situation, both Zeblo and Breen advanced to third and second base, respectfully, on a passed ball by Ball State.
The Cardinals then intentionally walked freshman Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) to once again set up a double play situation. Senior Derek Hamblen (Plano, Texas), who leads the Bruins in batting but was 0-6 today, hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Zeblo on the game-winning run.
Belmont tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Craig led off the inning with a single to center field and then advanced to second when senior Nate Woods (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) reached first on a hit by pitch. Craig then made it to third base on a sacrifice bunt by senior Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.). It was then Zeblo who hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Craig from third to send the game into extra innings.
"Matt Zeblo played a key role in both of the key situations tonight, driving in the run in the ninth inning and then scoring the winning run in the 12th," Head Coach David Jarvis said. "It was good to see him have a two for four day, and of course Judah Akers and Dylan Craig both went three for five to help us out at the plate."
BU starter Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) left the game after six innings with a 5-4 lead. The left-hander struck out three while walking none and allowing four runs on 10 hits. Sophomore Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.) then came in to start the seventh inning and gave up two runs to the Cardinals.
"I made a crucial mistake in the seventh inning," Jarvis commented. "I should have intentionally walked their three-hole hitter to get to their clean up guy in that situation, but I felt good about Josh [Davis] at that time and what he had been doing. That was my mistake and fortunately the players were able to overcome that and come away with a victory."
After going down 6-5 in the seventh, junior Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) and senior Jon Ivie (Summertown, Tenn.) finished the game on the mound for the Bruins. They combined to pitch 5 and one third innings, allowing no runs and only two hits while striking out three.
"The type of bullpen work that Matt Hamann and Jon Ivie gave us, not only tonight but through the course of the whole season, has just been stellar," Jarvis said. "It's been outstanding. The other number that was again a factor, was that in 12 innings our kids walked no batters. That might have been the difference in this ball game."
Belmont got out to a good start in this one, taking a 3-0 lead after the first inning. After Hamblen led off with a strikeout, junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) and Craig walked to put two men on base for Woods. The senior first baseman then recorded his second homer of the season with a blast over the left field wall to add to his team-leading RBI total.
The Bruins finished with seven runs on 11 hits and two errors, while Ball State tallied six runs on 16 hits and no errors. Ivie was credited with his first win of the season, while the Cardinals' Seth Hobbs fell to 0-1 with the loss.
BU and Ball State will be back on the field on Saturday with game two of the series starting at 1:00 p.m. at Shelby Park.