NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball posted another impressive outing against Eastern Illinois as they secured the series with an 8-3 win in game two Friday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park. The Bruins were supported by an experienced squad with three veterans posting multi-hit performances.
Senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) along with junior duo Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) and Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) each collected multiple hits while accounting for half of the Bruins runs. Bournigal went 3-for-5 at the plate, coming up one short of hitting for the cycle with a single, double and triple on the day. Egli has been effective in the batter's box all series - having reached base in each of his nine plate appearances against Eastern Illinois (7-27, 3-11), going 2-for-2 while collecting a pair of walks in the second game.
The Bruins (16-17, 11-6) compiled three base knocks in the second frame to bring in the first run. Junior Alex Ward (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) led off the frame with a single to right center and advanced on a wild pitch to threaten right away, setting up Conger to collect the RBI with a shot to left field and put BU on the board first for the second consecutive day. All six of Belmont's hits came in the form of a single through three stanzas helping the squad to a 2-0 advantage a third of the way through. Redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) registered the second run after dropping one into shallow right field.
Starting hurler Dylan King (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) gave the Panthers a hard time on the hill in his first three innings, striking out five batters and only relinquishing one hit. Eastern Illinois cut its deficit in half in the fourth on a solo shot over the left field fence from Dougie Parks. After giving up just his second hit, King hit a pair of Panthers and found himself in a jam with just one out under him. The righty quickly settled in and fanned the next two batters, bringing his total to seven.
Belmont used another trio of hits to make it 5-1 in the fourth. A lead off hit from Conger and hit-by-pitch to senior Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) set up Bournigal to collect BU's first extra base shot of the day as he ripped a triple to deep centerfield and recorded two RBIs. Sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) then brought in Bournigal with the Bruins eighth single.
The Panthers work their way back into the game with the help of three consecutive hits to start that plated a pair of runs to start the seventh. A leadoff single sparked the EIU offense before Frankie Perrone and Hunter Beetley recorded back-to-back two-baggers to bring them within two, 5-3. Head Coach Dave Jarvis elected to go to the bullpen and bring in sophomore reliever Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) who sat down the first three Panthers he saw and got the Bruins out of the inning without any further damage. King logged six complete innings, striking out nine batters while giving up three runs on five hits.
Conger reached base for the fourth time via a base on balls in the seventh and went on to score in a rather unconventional manner. He proceeded to steal second and then made it home from consecutive throwing errors on the same play by Eastern Illinois to double Belmont's lead, 6-3.
The Bruins tacked on two more runs in the eighth with more contributions from the veterans. Bournigal registered his third hit, adding a two-bagger to his resume, before he'd score on a wild pitch and Egli launched his second solo shot of the series to put Belmont up, 8-3.
The series finale between the Bruins and the Panthers will take place on Saturday, April 15 at E.S. Rose Park. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.