Belmont Prepares to Defend Atlantic Sun Championship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - This week the Belmont baseball team (35-21, 17-10) will compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, returning to the place where 2011's historic run began.  Belmont's Atlantic Sun Championship and NCAA Regional Runner-Up finish last season would not have been possible without a 2-1 series win on the road at Stetson.  It put BU into the league playoffs at the end of the 2011 season.

Now, after winning the 2012 A-Sun regular season championship with a sweep of Lipscomb this past weekend, the Bruins return to Stetson's Melching Field for the 2012 installment of the league championship, attempting to defend their crown.  In the first game of the tournament, top seeded BU will play the host and sixth seeded Hatters on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. CT. UPDATE: Due to the length of Wednesday's first two games, Belmont vs. Stetson will be pushed back to a 7:00 p.m. CT start time.

The Belmont Bruins earned their first ever Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship and the top seed in this week's league tournament after sweeping Lipscomb in the final series of the year.  A number of other outcomes had to occur to give BU sole possession of the regular season crown and the top spot in the playoffs.  Mercer had to sweep then league-leading USC Upstate, and FGCU had to take two out of three from Stetson.  Both happened, which vaulted Belmont to the championship.

The Bruins finished the 2012 regular season on a five game winning streak, ending the year with 35 victories, a Belmont record for the regular season.  The previous best was 32, set last season during BU's historic run through the A-Sun Tournament and into the NCAA Regionals. This is just the fifth time in Belmont's NCAA era that the team has reached the 30 victory plateau, and only the ninth time in program history. Last season's 38 total wins were the most ever for a Belmont team.  Belmont's 35-21 record is the best winning percentage during the Bruins' NCAA era, and the best since going 31-17 in 1997.

This season's berth into the A-Sun Tournament is Belmont's sixth overall, and the fifth in the last six seasons.  The Bruins are 11-7 in those games, including last year's 4-0 run to the championship.  The first four A-Sun Tournaments Belmont competed in (2003, 2007, 2008, and 2009) took place in DeLand, Fla., where this year's tournament is being held, while 2011's was at Lipscomb in Nashville.  Belmont is 7-1 all-time in the A-Sun Tournament against teams in the field this year.  The Bruins are 4-0 against Mercer, 1-0 against Kennesaw State, and 2-1 against Stetson.

The tournament festivities will begin on Tuesday, as Belmont and the other five teams practice on Stetson's Melching field throughout the day.  Everyone will then get together that night for the conference banquet, before beginning play on Wednesday.

No. 2 USC Upstate and No. 5 Mercer start things off at 10:00 a.m. CT, No. 3 Kennesaw State and No. 4 Florida Gulf Coast continue play at 2:00 p.m. CT, and No. 1 Belmont and No. 6 Stetson conclude the first day of action at 6:00 p.m. CT.

All of Belmont's games will feature live audio on the Bruin Sports Network, and video on ASun.TV.  Fans can also follow all the action with Live Stats on GoHatters.com, or by following @BelmontBaseball on Twitter.

The bracket for the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament can be found by clicking here.

For all other information about the championship, head to the A-Sun's Tournament Central.