NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (10-7) exploded for 20 runs as the Bruins defeated Middle Tennessee (10-7) by a score of 20-5 on Tuesday. Sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) went three-for-four with a double and a home run to lead BU at the plate.
The 20 total runs for the Bruins were the most for the program since the record-setting 24 run win over UT-Martin on May 11, 2011. The highest scoring total by Belmont this season before Tuesday was 14 in a win against Southern Illinois on February 29. Middle Tennessee hadn't given up more than seven runs in a game this year, and had only given up more than five runs once.
"I thought it was really important that we came out today and didn't have a mental let down," Head Coach Dave Jarvis said following the game. "Middle Tennessee made some mistakes, gave us some opportunities, and to our kids' credit, we jumped on it and took advantage of those opportunities."
Although senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) bunt singled and came around to score in the first inning, it was the second frame that gave Belmont the extreme seven run advantage that propelled the Bruins to victory.
BU batted around in order, as freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.) led off the second by getting hit by a pitch, and ended it with a ground out to the second baseman. After junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) walked, freshman Jamie Ritchie (Buford, Ga.) doubled to left field to drive in the first run of the inning.
A walk and an RBI hit by pitch later, and the Blue Raiders were already going to their bullpen. MTSU's Daniel Palo didn't fare much better than starter Jordan Cooper, as the reliever hit the next Belmont batter to allow another run for the Bruins. Craig then came to the plate and cleared all the bases with a three-run triple to right center field.
It was Craig's second hit in as many innings on the night, and marked the senior's 21st career triple at Belmont. That three-bagger tied him for the all-time record at BU with Jeff Lillard, who tallied 21 triples from 1993-96. It also marked Craig's team-leading 11th, 12th, and 13th runs batted in.
Sophomore Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) ended the scoring for Belmont with a sacrifice fly to center field, driving in Craig. With an 8-1 lead, the Bruins held Middle Tennessee scoreless for the next three innings, while adding seven more runs during the third, fourth, and fifth.
Turner doubled to lead off the third and later scored on an RBI double by senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.). Junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) and Turner recorded an RBI double and an RBI single, respectively, to tally two more on the board in the fourth.
Dodd recorded his second home run of the season on a solo shot to left field to lead off the fifth inning. Three walks, a hit by pitch, a fielder's choice, and an error later, and Belmont increased the lead to 15-1 after five innings.
The Blue Raiders tacked on a pair of solo home runs in the sixth and the seventh, before Belmont added four in the bottom of the seventh and one in the eighth to total 20 runs for the game. A number of walks, hit by pitches, and walks surrounded a two-run double by Dodd in the seventh. Brody then doubled to lead off the eighth, and eventually scored on a ground out by freshman Matthew Kinney (Alpharetta, Ga.).
The Belmont pitching was solid throughout the contest, allowing only two earned runs. The Bruin defense was suspect on Tuesday, totaling four errors in the win. Junior Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.) improved to 3-1 on the season after allowing one unearned run on no hits and striking out two Blue Raider batters. The right-hander improved to 10-4 on the mound in his career, the third highest winning percentage in Belmont history.
Freshmen Austin Coley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Kinney, and Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) each made scoreless appearances in relief. They allowed three hits and struck out three batters between them. The Bruin staff – seven pitchers in total on the day – only walked one Middle Tennessee batter.
Belmont totaled 20 runs on 11 hits and four errors, while Middle Tennessee finished with five runs on eight hits and two errors. The Blue Raiders' Cooper fell to 0-1 on the season in the loss after allowing six runs on two hits and two walks in the first inning.
The Bruins will next host Valparaiso on Wednesday at Rose Park. The game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and will be available on the Bruin Sports Network with play-by-play from Rich Tiner.