NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (38-25) defeated Troy (43-19) by a score of 5-2 to advance to the NCAA Regional Championship against Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon. The Bruins eliminated the Trojans and will have to top the Commodores twice in order to advance to a Super Regional next weekend. The first contest is beginning at 7:35 p.m. CT at Vandy's Hawkins Field.
Senior Nate Woods (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) won his fifth straight decision, allowing only one run on four hits in five innings on the mound. The big right-hander kept Troy scoreless through five before giving up a double to open the sixth. He was relieved by freshman Blake Harvey (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), who allowed the Trojan to score after a couple of singles.
Harvey then gave up another run in the seventh before giving way to junior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) and senior Jon Ivie (Summertown, Tenn.) for the final three innings of the contest. The two relievers combined for three shutout frames to secure the Belmont victory.
The Bruins picked up three runs in the second inning to take control of the game in the early going. Singles by senior Matt Zeblo (Raleigh, N.C.) and freshman Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) sandwiched a Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.) walk to load the bases for BU.
Sophomore Judah Akers then drove in Zeblo with a single through the infield, and forced the Trojans to pull starting pitcher Ryan Sorce after just one inning of action. Sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) then singled up the middle to drive in another two to make it 3-0 in favor of the Bruins.
After leaving the next six frames empty, Belmont added two runs of insurance in the ninth to take the 5-2 lead. Egerton led off with a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brody, and then made it to third on a ground out by sophomore Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.). After a walk from sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.), a wild pitch and an RBI single from junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) later, and Belmont had a three run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
That is when the Bruins turned to senior leader Ivie to close it out. And after retiring the Trojans in order, he gave Belmont the win and recorded the 26th save of his career, the most by any Belmont player in the history of the program. It was his 15th of the season, also a Belmont record.
Belmont totaled five runs on nine hits and two errors in the second ever NCAA Tournament victory for the University. Woods improved to 7-5 on the season, and added a hit at the plate for the Bruins. Zeblo, Brody, and Akers each tallied two hits in the win.
The Bruins advance to the championship game against #3 Vanderbilt, which is being played Sunday night. If Belmont tops the Commodores, they will take on VU again on Monday in the final contest of the weekend. Winning that second game will put Belmont into a Super Regional series against the winner of the Oregon State Regional.
More to come following the Vandy game…