NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (14-15, 4-8) defeated Jacksonville (17-11, 7-5) by a score of 5-1 in the final game of the Atlantic Sun Conference series on Sunday afternoon. The Bruins scored five runs during the fifth and sixth innings to take one of three from the Dolphins at Shelby Park.
Junior Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.), who started on the mound for the first time since April 6th of last season, was dominant on the mound for Belmont this afternoon. The right-hander had been coming out of the bullpen this season, but began the game with five scoreless innings in his first start of the season. Hamann struck out three batters, walked only one, allowed six hits, and gave up one run in six innings pitched for BU. With the win he improved to 3-1 on the season.
"There is no way to describe how important his [Matt Hamann] start was today," Head Coach Dave Jarvis said. "His mentality, his focus, his intensity, and the way that he went out there and competed for us was the difference in this ball game."
Jacksonville starter Tony Mollica kept the Bruins at bay for his first four innings on the mound, but it was errors that got the Dolphins in trouble throughout this contest, as BU scored two runs in the fifth after two Jacksonville errors. Sophomore Judah Akers led off the inning with a double to right center field, before sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) and junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) reached on errors to score Akers. Mitchell then came around to score on a single through the infield by junior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.).
After the Dolphins scored their one run in the top of the sixth, Belmont tallied three more in the bottom half of the inning to make it 5-1. Adam Maxon relieved Mollica in the fifth and got Jacksonville out of the inning, but the Bruins took advantage of the new arm early thanks to two more JU errors. Senior Matt Zeblo (Raleigh, N.C.) reached on an error by the shortstop to lead off the inning. The Dolphins then recorded another error when trying to throw out Zeblo on a fielder's choice by senior Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.). After Breen singled to center to load the bases, freshman Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) tallied his 11th and 12th runs batted in of the season on a single down the left field line.
"Our kids responded in a tremendous way from the defeat that we suffered yesterday," Jarvis added. "They came back and played with the type of focus, the type of intensity, and most importantly the type of confidence that we need to implement on a daily basis when we're playing this game."
With a 5-1 lead, the Belmont bullpen came in to record three innings of two-hit baseball. Junior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) went the seventh and eighth innings allowing only two hits and no runs. Senior Jon Ivie (Summertown, Tenn.) then took over in the ninth, striking out two to end the game.
The Bruins finished with five runs on five hits and one error, while Jacksonville totaled one run on eight hits and five errors. Hamann earned the victory, improving to 3-1 on the season, while Mollica was credited with the loss and falls to 2-2 on the year.
"This game today was the first game of the second half of our season, so now we're 1-0 in the second part of the year," Jarvis concluded. "We just look forward from here and see where it takes us."
Belmont will next host Tennessee- Martin in a non-conference tilt on Wednesday, April 6. The contest is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. at Shelby Park in Nashville.