DELAND, Fla. – The Belmont baseball team (31-24, 16-13) defeated #17 Stetson (40-15, 23-6) by a score of 5-2 on Friday evening. The win, and Lipscomb's loss to Florida Gulf Coast earlier in the day, changed the Bruins' chances of making it into next week's Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. With another win over Stetson on Saturday, or a Lipscomb victory over FGCU, and BU will make the league playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Bruins grabbed a 3-0 advantage with a pair of two-out runs in the fifth. After the first two batters of the inning struck out and flied out, senior Derek Hamblen (Plano, Texas) doubled for the third time of the series with a shot down the left field line. Junior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) then walked before senior Nate Woods (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) singled to right center field, driving in both runners.
Belmont starter Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) held the Hatters scoreless for the first four innings, but allowed one run to Stetson in the fifth. The junior right-hander walked the first batter of the inning, who ended up scoring on a ground out after reaching third on a wild pitch.
The Bruins took advantage of a leadoff walk of their own in the next half inning. Senior Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.) walked, stole second base, and then scored from second on a deep double to left center field by sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) to make it 4-1.
Hamann faced only six batters during the sixth and seventh innings, allowing one hit during the stretch. Then the Hatters got one run in the bottom of the eighth to cut the Bruin lead to two, at 4-2. Hamann gave up a single through the infield to Mitchell Brennan before walking Jeff Simpson. The two runners then advanced to second and third on a ground out, and Brennan scored on a sacrifice fly by Ben Carhart.
The BU offense picked up one insurance run in the ninth to make it 5-2. Breen led off the frame with a walk, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.). Breen scored from second on a single to center by Craig.
After allowing only two runs on four hits, Hamann was relieved in the ninth for closer Jon Ivie (Summertown, Tenn.). The Belmont closer picked up his 11th save of the season in facing only four Hatter batters. Ivie picked up his 22nd career save, making him three away from tying the all-time record at Belmont.
The Bruins totaled five runs on nine hits and one error. Hamann improved to 8-1 on the season, leaving the junior one win shy of tying the Belmont single-season record for wins in a season. Breen and Craig led BU at the plate with two hits each, while Breen and Woods each tallied to RBI in the victory.
Stetson finished with two runs on five hits and one error. Will Dorsey fell to 6-5 on the season after allowing four runs on seven hits in five and two thirds innings pitched. Carhart was the only Hatter with multiple hits, recording two in the loss.
The two teams will compete in the final game of the regular season on Saturday. The contest is scheduled for a 12:00 p.m. CT start, with the Bruins needing a victory or a Lipscomb victory over FGCU to earn a spot in next week's A-Sun Conference Tournament.