FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Belmont baseball team (31-21, 14-10) defeated Florida Gulf Coast (21-29, 12-12) by a score of 8-6 in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) went two-for-five with three runs batted in and a run scored to lead the Bruins at the plate.
Akers drove in two runs during a huge five-run second inning that proved to be the difference in the game. FGCU starting pitcher Brandon Bixler walked five straight batters, which scored Belmont's first two runs of the frame, and gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead. Junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) then extended the BU lead on a sacrifice fly to center field, before Akers made it 6-1 on a two-run single to left.
Belmont then added one run in the fourth and another in the sixth to take a commanding 8-1 lead heading into the seventh. The Bruins' fourth was highlighted by singles from Turner and freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.), and culminated with Akers' third RBI on a fielder's choice. Akers then scored the sixth-inning run after a single to left, a stolen base, and an error.
After allowing one run on a pair of singles and a walk in the first, sophomore starting pitcher James Buckelew (Lawrenceville, Ga.) pitched six straight innings of shutout baseball to allow Belmont to extend its lead. The lefty finally started giving way to the Eagles in the eighth, loading the bases on two singles and an error.
Freshman Austin Coley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) came in to relieve Buckelew and got Belmont out of the jam, allowing just one run in the eighth after striking out two. FGCU made the game interesting in the ninth, scoring four runs on four hits and two hit by pitches. Freshman Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) relieved senior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) to pick up his first save of the season.
Belmont finished with eight runs on eight hits and two errors. Buckelew improved to 6-1 on the season, while Moses earned the save. FGCU totaled six runs on 16 hits and one error. Bixler dropped to 3-6 on the season.
The Bruins will next host Austin Peay on Tuesday, before playing Lipscomb in the final series of the regular season at Rose Park.