June 4, 2011

Baseball Records First Ever Belmont NCAA Tournament Victory

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (37-25) eliminated Oklahoma State (35-25) from the Nashville Regional with a 3-2 victory on Saturday afternoon.  It marks the first ever win for a Belmont University team in any sport in the NCAA Tournament.  Sophomore Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) allowed just two hits and one earned run in eight innings pitched.

It was a regular old pitchers' duel in Nashville on Saturday, as Brookshire struck out six in his eight-inning outing, and Cowboy starter Brad Propst struck out a career best 11 batters, while allowing just three runs on five hits in 7.1 innings pitched.

After tallying one run in the first on a solo shot by senior Nate Woods (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Belmont recorded two in the bottom of the third to take an early 3-0 lead that would not be contested until the top of the ninth.  With two outs in the frame, senior Derek Hamblen (Plano, Texas) singled to left center to start the rally.  A single by junior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and a walk by Woods later, and the bases were loaded.  Senior Matt Zeblo (Raleigh, N.C.) then singled to right field, driving in Hamblen and Craig.

Brookshire took a perfect game into the top half of the fifth inning, and proceeded to record the first two outs of the frame.  Davis Duren then broke it up by beating out the Brookshire throw on a bunt down the left field line.  The Belmont left-hander kept things going smoothly through the eighth inning as he kept the Cowboys scoreless into the ninth.

The Belmont starter walked his first and only batter of the game to lead off the final inning.  Devin Shines then reached base on a fielding error by Bruin short stop Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.).  With no outs and two men on in the ninth, BU Head Coach Dave Jarvis called on senior closer Jon Ivie (Summertown, Tenn.) to shut Oklahoma State down.

After striking out the first batter he faced, Ivie allowed a single and walked to batters, giving up two runs to OSU.  As the bases remained loaded for Duren, the player that broke up Brookshire's perfect game earlier, Ivie forced the batter to ground into a double play.  Breen, in a bit of redemption from the error earlier in the inning, picked up the grounder stepped on second and threw out Duren at first to give Belmont the 3-2 victory.

Belmont finished with three runs on five hits and one error.  Craig led the Bruins with two hits on the day, while Zeblo drove in two runs and Woods connected on his team-leading 13th home run of the season.  Brookshire improved to 6-4 on the season with the win, and Ivie recorded a Belmont single-season record 14th save of the year.

Oklahoma State totaled two runs on only three hits and one error.  Duren, Zach Johnson, and Hunter Bailey tallied the base knocks for the Cowboys.  Propst falls to 7-6 with the loss.  This marked only the second time in 38 NCAA appearances that OSU went 0-2 in the Tournament.  As of last week the Cowboys were receiving votes in both the ESPN/USA Today and the NCBW polls.

Belmont University has sent 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, including this year's baseball team, but this was first time a Bruin team has won a game in the prestigious postseason event.  It also marked the first Belmont Baseball win over a team currently in the Big 12.  Back in 2006, BU fell to Kansas in the only other contest of the like.

The Bruins will next play on Sunday against the loser of tonight's game between Vanderbilt and Troy.  The contest will start at 2:00 p.m. and the winner will play again at 7:00 p.m. against the winner of the aforementioned game between the Commodores and the Trojans.

Video of post-game press conference with Jarvis, Brookshire, Zeblo and Breen

Update: Vanderbilt defeated Troy 10-2 on Saturday.  Belmont will play Troy on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.  The winner will play Vandy Sunday night at 7:00 p.m.