NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (36-25) fell to #6 Vanderbilt (48-10) by a score of 10-0 in the first round of the NCAA Regional Championships in Nashville on Friday night. The Bruins, who are competing in the first NCAA Tournament in program history, will play Oklahoma State on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in day two action at Hawkins Field.
Belmont wasn't able to get much going offensively against the Commodores' ace Sonny Gray. The Vandy right-hander went four and two thirds perfect innings before failing to retire a batter. It was freshman Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) that broke it up with a single to left field in the top of the fifth.
The Bruins then connected on back to back singles by junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) and senior Derek Hamblen (Plano, Texas), but failed to score a run. BU loaded the bases for the first time in the seventh inning, when Will Clinard relieved Gray. Senior Matt Zeblo (Raleigh, N.C.) led off with a walk, before senior Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.) and Brody singled to juice the bases with no out. Two strikeouts and a ground out later, and Vandy remained on top, 10-0.
The Commodores opened the scoring early in this one, scoring two in the bottom of the first on a two RBI double by Curt Casali. Belmont starter Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) then settled down, retiring six of the next seven batters through the second and third innings.
Vanderbilt got the best of Hamann in the fourth, tallying six runs and basically putting the game out of reach for the Bruins. Five singles and two errors, both by Hamann, gave the Commodores an 8-0 lead, which was enough to cruise on to victory on Friday.
Vandy tacked on another two in the bottom of the sixth before freshman James Buckelew (Suwanee, Ga.) came in to relieve Hamann. The left-hander retired the first seven batters he faced until he gave up a single to Mike Yastrzemski in the eighth. Buckelew then forced a fly out to Anthony Gomez to end eighth.
The Bruins loaded the bases once again in the ninth, as senior Vinny Casha (Nashville, Tenn.) walked, Egerton was hit by a pitch, and sophomore Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) singled to left. It was once again two strikeouts and a ground out that ended the game, and gave Vandy the 10-0 victory over Belmont.
Vandy totaled 10 runs on 15 hits and no errors in the win. Yastrzemski led the Commodores at the plate with three hits, while Casali tallied three RBI in the contest. Gray earned the victory after allowing no runs on three hits in 6.0 innings pitched.
Belmont failed to score, but finished with six hits and committed two errors in the defeat. Brody led the way with two hits on the day. Hamann picked up the loss after allowing seven earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.
BU will next play against Oklahoma State on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in an elimination contest. The Cowboys fell to Troy on Friday afternoon by a score of 9-2. The Bruins are throwing sophomore Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) against Oklahoma State in an attempt to win the first NCAA Tournament game for Belmont University.