NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (16-10, 4-2) scored one run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and send it into extra innings, but No. 15 Stetson (16-8, 1-2) tallied two runs in the top of the 10th to top the Bruins 6-4 in the final game of the weekend series and avoid the sweep.
It was the first back and forth game of the series, as Belmont had the Hatters' number in winning Friday's contest 23-4, and shutting Stetson out 5-0 on Saturday. It was evident that Sunday's final tilt of the weekend was going to be evenly matched, as neither team scored in the first and both teams put up one run in the second.
The Hatters were able to score first, as Belmont sophomore starter James Buckelew (Lawrenceville, Ga.) walked two batters and gave up a single to load the bases. His walk to short stop Mark Jones plated the first Stetson run, before Buckelew was able to strike out Spencer Theisen to end the inning.
Belmont's second inning run was a much simpler affair. Junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) turned on one with a 1-0 count, and sent it beyond the Bruins' bullpen in left field for the solo homerun to lead off the inning.
BU tacked on two more runs in the third to take its only lead of the game, at 3-1. After the first two Bruins grounded out, sophomore Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.) hit his fourth homer of the series on a bomb over the left field wall. Akers then walked, and came around to score on a double by freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.). Attempting to turns his double into a triple, Beaty was called out at third. Luckily for Belmont, Akers had already scored from first on the play.
The Hatters slowly but surely made their way back into the game, scoring one more run off of Buckelew in the fifth, and adding one in the sixth off of junior reliever Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.). After a pair of empty innings for both teams, Stetson regained the lead with a double and a single in the ninth to make it 4-3.
Belmont showed no quit as junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single. A pop up and a fielder's choice left the Bruins with one out remaining. Sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), who finished the week with a staggering average of .533, hit a long fly ball down the left field line that was lost in the sun by Stetson outfielder Sam Kimmel. Dodd's double drove in the tying run and sent the game to extra innings.
Senior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) came in for the 10th inning, and worked himself into a jam. Robert Crews singled to left, Mitchel Brennan walked, and Robert Bruce sacrificed himself to give Stetson runners on second and third. Fanchier then struck out Trey Blackman to get the second out of the 10th.
An error by junior short stop Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.), who has made a multitude of eye-popping plays in the infield this season, and made many difficult plays seem routine on Sunday, was what allowed the final two Stetson runs to score.
The Bruins were unable to score in the bottom half of the 10th, finishing with four runs on 10 hits and two errors. Breen led Belmont at the plate, going three-for-four on the day. Akers and Turner each tallied a pair of hits, while Fanchier was credited with the loss.
Stetson totaled six runs on eight hits and one error in its lone win of the weekend. The Hatters were led by Crews and Kimmel, who each recorded two hits in the victory. SU's closer, Robbie Powell, earned the win after allowing just one run on three hits in four innings pitched.
"There were too many opportunities that we didn't capitalize on, offensively," Head Coach Dave Jarvis said after the game. "We walked seven batters, and made a couple of key errors, and that was the difference in the game. Stetson just did more things right today than we did."
Belmont is now 4-2 in league play after winning its first two Atlantic Sun Conference series, and will head back on the road next weekend to play a three-game series at Jacksonville. The games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (Friday), 12:00 p.m. (Saturday), and 11:00 a.m. (Sunday).