NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (16-9, 4-1) defeated No. 15 Stetson (15-8, 0-2) by a score of 5-0 to clinch the weekend series against last year's regular season Atlantic Sun Conference Champion.
Senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) was one of four Bruins to record two hits in the game. With his first, a single down the left field line in the fifth innings, he became the all-time hits leader in Belmont history with 291 career hits. He passed former Belmont star Derek Hamblen, who totaled 290 in his four year career.
"It's a huge honor," Craig said of his achievement following the game. "I'm grateful to [Head] Coach [Dave] Jarvis for giving me the chance to show my ability here at Belmont University."
After Friday's 23-4 drubbing, Belmont started on the attack immediately on Saturday when senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) hit a solo shot over the right field fence. His homer gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead that they never relinquished throughout the game.
The one run was all that BU would need, though, as senior captain Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) helped start the combined shutout with five innings of one-hit shutout baseball. The right-hander picked up his first win of the season, striking out three and walking only one.
"Make no mistake about it, we're playing well right now," Jarvis said after the win. "Stetson is still a very good ball club. After the type of win we had yesterday, for Matt to come out and give us five one-hit shutout innings, was huge. It really gave us the opportunity to create more momentum today."
The Belmont bullpen continued the trend, as freshmen Austin Coley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) pitched two innings each, allowing no runs and one hit a piece. The former struck out four batters and walked none during the sixth and seventh, while the latter struck out two and walked one in the eighth and ninth.
The first inning run might have been enough for the win, but Belmont didn't stop there. The Bruins tacked on four runs of support throughout the game, beginning with an RBI single by sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). The BU left fielder went two-for-three on the day, increasing his season average to .315, which is third best on the team.
The Bruins added two runs in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead over the Hatters. Craig led off the frame with a single down the left field line to earn his newfound record. Sophomore Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) then drove Craig in with a towering home run over the left field wall. It marked Brody's third two-run homer in the past two days, as the third baseman went two-for-four with a walk and no strike outs in the victory.
"Greg is very capable in that three-hole in the lineup," Jarvis continued. "He's always going to give us a good approach. He can deal with tough pitches. As long as he has good strike zone discipline, everything else is going to take care of itself. Plus, Greg has really started to eliminate mistakes as of late."
Belmont tacked on its final run of insurance in the seventh. Junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) walked to lead off the inning. Junior Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) and freshman Jamie Ritchie (Buford, Ga.) then recorded back to back singles, as the latter drove in his seven run of the season.
The Bruins finished with five runs on 11 hits and no errors. The Hatters were shutout, and recorded just three hits while committing three errors. Hamann picked up the win on the mound, while Lindsey Caughel dropped his first decision of the year after allowing four runs on eight hits in five and two thirds innings pitched.
The two teams will be back in action on Sunday at 12:00 p.m., as Belmont attempts to sweep Stetson. The game will be featured on the Bruin Sports Network, with play-by-play from a combination of Greg Sage and Rich Tiner.