BATON ROUGE, La. – The Belmont baseball team (39-24) fell to Louisiana Monroe (32-29) by a score of 6-3 on Saturday afternoon, eliminating the Bruins from the 2012 NCAA Regional Championships in Baton Rouge. A three-run eighth inning was too much for Belmont, as the Bruins finish the year with a program-best 39 wins.
The Bruins got down early, allowing three total runs during the third and fourth innings. A triple to right field, followed by a ground ball to second scored the Warhawks' run in the third. In the fourth, starting pitcher Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) suffered from a leadoff double and a sacrifice bunt turned single. A stolen base for ULM put runners on second and third, while a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly gave the Warhawks a 3-0 lead.
Belmont began stringing things together in the top of the fifth, tying the game at 3-3. Freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.) and junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) recorded back to back singles to center field to open the frame. Freshman Alec Diamond (Kennesaw, Ga.) then drove in the Bruins' first run of the game with a single up the middle.
Following a sacrifice bunt by junior Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) that advanced Diamond and Akers to second and third, respectively, another single cut the ULM lead to 3-2. Senior Phillip Parsley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) hit a shot near the left field line that unlike Friday night dropped in fair territory and scored Akers.
Bringing in reliever Kendall Thamm for starter Cale Wine couldn't stop the bleeding for the Warhawks, as senior Dylan Craig's (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) sacrifice fly tied the game. His team-leading sixth of the season drove in Diamond from third base.
The Warhawks threatened in both the sixth and the seventh, but both times Belmont was able to get out the situation unscathed. A hit by pitch, a single, and an intentional walk from Hamann loaded the bases in the sixth, but a fly out to right field ended the rally.
After freshman Austin Coley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) allowed a couple of hits and committed a fielding error to put runners on first and third to start the seventh, classmate Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) came in and got the Bruins out of the jam. The right-hander forced a soft liner to second, and then struck out the final batter of the frame to keep BU tied at 3-3 heading to the eighth.
Moses didn't have as much success in the eighth, as a leadoff double, a hit by pitch, and a walk loaded the bases with only one out for the Warhawks. An RBI ground out, and a two-run single to center field gave ULM a comfortable 6-3 lead that held up through the ninth.
ULM finished with six runs on 10 hits and no errors. Kendall Thamm improved to 7-3 on the season after allowing no runs on just one hit in 4.2 innings of relief for the Warhawks. ULM will now move on to play the loser of Oregon State and LSU on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT.
Belmont totaled three runs on six hits and one error. Moses fell to 2-3 on the season after allowing the final three runs of the contest on just two hits. Akers led the Bruins at the plate with two hits and a run scored. Craig, Diamond, and Parsley drove in the three Belmont runs on the day.
Another historic season for Belmont, the Bruins finish with a 39-24 record, the most victories in a single season in program history. BU will move to the Ohio Valley Conference for the 2013 season after winning its final two opportunities come away with the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship.