RICHMOND, Ky. – For the second time in one day, Belmont baseball saw career outings from its pitchers as junior hurler Connor Etheridge (Springfield, Ill.) wreaked havoc on Eastern Kentucky in the second game of the double header, striking out 12 batters in seven frames. The Bruins shutout the Colonels, 2-0, to take the series Friday afternoon at Earle Combs Stadium.
From then on the Bruins relied on Etheridge, who kept Eastern Kentucky's bats at bay for much of the game. The right-handed hurler retired 15 batters in EKU's first 18 plate appearances – 10 of them coming via strikeout. Etheridge registered at least one K in every inning he tossed, highlighted by fanning three consecutive batters in the fifth stanza. The most strike outs that the Springfield, Illinois product had previously tossed was eight against Bowling Green earlier this year.
The only time that Etheridge experienced any kind of pressure from the Colonels was in the bottom of first inning when EKU connected on back-to-back singles. Aside from the opening frame, Belmont never allowed more than one runner to reach base for the remainder of the game.
Eastern Kentucky eventually found a way to quiet Belmont's offense as the Bruins only connected on a pair of hits in the next five frames. The squad threatened in the eighth, once again with the help of Egli who painted the left line for a two-bagger with one down. Junior Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) wore a pitch to the hand for a free base before Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) laced a base knock to right field and put runners on first and second, but both would be stranded as EKU triggered the final out.
Head coach Dave Jarvis brought in closer Dom Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) to wrap up the final two innings. Veltri went on secure the shutout, including tossing a strikeout of his own to bring the running total to 13 Ks in the game and seal the deal.
It's the first time the Bruins shutout an opponent since last year when they beat Morehead State, 9-0, on March 20th.
Belmont returns home for a midweek game against neighborhood rival, Lipscomb, on Tuesday, March 14 at E.S. Rose Park.