NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a weather shortened season finale the Belmont baseball seniors shined in the last home contest of their careers, rolling past Furman 9-5 in an eight-inning game three Saturday afternoon at E.S. Rose park.
Six veterans contributed to the Bruins victory, including multi-hit performances from Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn) and Tyler Walsh (Evansville, Ind.) who both connected for a pair. The squad also enjoyed stellar outings from a couple of their senior pitchers, including Christopher Carroll (Hendersonville, Tenn.) who earned his first career start on the hill and recorded a quick three up, three down frame to start day including fanning two batters.
The Bruins then went on to take an early 2-0 lead in the home half of the inning courtesy of a RBI two-bagger from redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) and a sacrifice fly from Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.). Their advantage was short lived as Furman went on to plate three runs of their own in the following stanza to go up, 3-2, in a similar manner.
The veterans continued to make a mark in their final game as Egli blasted a two-run bomb over the right field fence to put the Bruins back on top in the third. It was the designated hitter's 16th long ball of the year, moving him into fourth all-time in program history for home runs in a single season.
The Bruins made it a two-run game in the fifth using a trio of base shots to score a run. Junior Kyler Conger and Egli got things started to put runners on the corners and allow BU to threaten with only one out. Cogen then drove in his second of three runs on the day, lacing a single to right field before the Paladins would get the run back.
Furman made it a 5-4 game with a RBI single through the left side in the sixth. It would be the sole run that sophomore reliever Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) would relinquish in five innings of work, striking out five batters and only allowing five hits to eventually earn the win.
Junior Alex Ward (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) once again extended Belmont's lead to two runs in the seventh with a RBI single to right field. A leadoff walk and base hit from Holland, who made it six consecutive games in which he's collected at least one hit, put runners on the corners for Ward to bring home the run and make it a 6-4 game.
For the third time the Paladins got themselves in striking distance, coming within one before Brennan Washington (Murfreesboro, Tenn) came in and retired the final two Paladins to register his third save of the year. The Bruins would finally put them away for one final time – scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth before the game was prematurely called. Senior duo Walsh and Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) helped solidify the win with a double from Walsh and a perfect bunt from Payne to advance him to threaten. From then on BU used a fielder's choice and a Furman error to take game three, 9-5.
Belmont has secured the No. 3 seed in the 2017 OVC Tournament and will play the No. 6 seed on Wednesday, May 24 at 3:00 p.m. The tournament will take place in Oxford, Ala. at Choccolocco Park.