Pitching, Defense Lead Baseball Past UALR, 3-0

James Buckelew improved to 2-0 with the win
James Buckelew improved to 2-0 with the win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three Bruin pitchers combined for a shutout, as the Belmont baseball team (3-4) defeated Arkansas-Little Rock (5-3) by a score of 3-0 on Sunday afternoon at Rose Park.  Sophomore James Buckelew (Lawrenceville, Ga.) improved to 2-0 on the mound after allowing five hits in a six-inning start.

Buckelew never found himself in trouble, scattering his five hits allowed over the first six innings of play.  The left-hander is off to a great start to the season, already matching his win total from 2011, and allowing only one earned run in 11.0 innings after two appearances.

The Bruin offense gave Buckelew some support in the third inning when sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) led the inning off getting hit by a pitch.  The Belmont left-fielder advanced to third base after a sacrifice and a ground out, and finally scored when senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) reached on a throwing error by the UALR second baseman.

Junior Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.) relieved Buckelew in the seventh inning, allowing two hits and striking out two batters before handing the ball over to senior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) for the ninth.

Belmont gave both Davis and Fanchier some extra insurance, scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh.  Junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) led off with a walk, reached second on an error by the Trojans, and then third on freshman Alec Diamond's (Kennesaw, Ga.) second sacrifice bunt of the contest.

Mitchell then drove in both Akers and pinch running freshman Drew Ferguson (Knoxville, Tenn.) on a single to left field.  The Belmont second baseman accounted for three out of BU's four hits on the day, and all two of the Bruins' runs batted in.

"Zac is a great leader for us," Head Coach Jarvis said following the game.  "He jumped started, or was heavily involved in, our offense every time it got going today.  He's a gritty player, and is somebody you really like having on your side.  Zac has a lot of baseball savvy, and he did a great job for us today."

Fanchier came in for the ninth and picked up his second save of the season, allowing just one hit and striking out one batter during the frame.

It wasn't only great pitching and timely hitting for Belmont on Sunday, though.  The Bruins got it done on the defensive side, recording four double plays.  Junior shortstop Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) was involved in all four, but none were as impressive as his back handed grab and quick throw to second, which Mitchell eventually turned for the double play.

Breen had a quality defensive game for the Bruins, also accounting for a barehanded grab and assist on a ball hit up the middle, as well as a hard hit ball deep into the hole at short that the junior had to fire over to first in order to get the runner out.

"To say that it was an outstanding defensive effort by Jared is true," Jarvis said.  "But it was also well within his capabilities. He didn't do anything today that shocked me. He made some great plays today, but it wasn't anything I didn't think he was capable of doing."

Belmont finished with three runs on four hits and one error.  Buckelew improved to 2-0 on the mound with the win, while Fanchier earned his second save of the season.  Mitchell accounted for three hits, while sophomore Spencer Petett (Tompkinsville, Ky.) tallied the fourth.

UALR was held without a run, but totaled eight hits and recorded three errors.  Austin Pfeiffer fell to 0-1 on the mound with the loss.  Ben Crumpton and Blake Johnson each recorded two hits in the loss, improving their season averages to .550 and .424, respectively.

The Bruins will next host Southern Illinois on Wednesday, February 29 at 4:00 p.m.  Check back to BelmontBruins.com for live audio availability.