NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior centerfielder Tyler Walsh (Evansville, Ind.) carved his name atop the Belmont baseball record books en route to the Bruins 9-7 victory over Lipscomb to claim the Battle of the Boulevard Tuesday night at Dugan Field.
Walsh tallied his second outing where he stole three bags, with his final stolen base making him the all-time leader in the statistical category in the NCAA era - breaking the 10-year record. The veteran has robbed 60 bags in his four-year career as a Bruin, moving him past former Belmont standout Matt Reynolds who compiled 59 from 2004-07.
Before Walsh even had a chance to start hijacking bases, sophomore Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) got the Bruins out to a hot start with a grand slam that propelled BU to a 4-0 lead in the opening frame. They started the night off with consecutive base knocks from junior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) and senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.), allowing redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) to load the bases on a free ride to first for Holland to launch his fourth long ball of the year.
The Bruins continued to tack on the runs in the third, increasing their lead to five runs on a double that painted the left line courtesy of Walsh. Sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) and Holland compiled a single and walk to put Bruins on first and second for Walsh to break up his cold spell at the plate and collect a couple RBIs.
The Bruins temporarily lost their defensive rhythm in the third as they gave up six runs, five which came with two outs in favor of Lipscomb. A solo shot over the left field wall started the scoring frenzy for the Bisons before a two-run dinger and a bases loaded hit-by-pitch brought them within one. Lipscomb took its first lead of the game when a throwing error from third baseman Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) allowed two more Lipscomb runs to cross and go up, 7-6.
Walsh etched his name in the record books in the top of the fifth frame, stealing a pair of bases to sit at third and set up Conger to drive in two runs and give Belmont back its lead. Walsh first got on after wearing a pitch before Kocher would take a free ride himself on a base on balls. Conger then connected on his third hit, dropping a two-bagger into deep right centerfield that put BU up, 8-7.
After a rough third inning, Belmont found a way to silence Lipscomb's bats for the next six stanzas – as six different BU relievers combined to hold the Bisons scoreless in that span. Senior Brennan Washington (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) inherited a pair of base runners and gave up a walk to load the bases in the seventh, but strikes out two Bisons and triggered the final out to get out of the frame unscathed. Senior closer Dom Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) went on to clinch his seventh save of the year, while classmate Zach Hodgkiss (Eads, Tenn.) earned his first win of the year.
Kocher gave the Bruins a insurance run with a hard-hit infield single that drove in Hadden who got on with the help of a Bisons error to BU up, 9-7.
Belmont returns to OVC action and hosts Murray State at E.S. Rose Park April 28-30. The first contest of the three-game series is slated to start at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 28.