NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont Baseball defeated No. 8 Vanderbilt 8-5 on Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park. The Bruins bounced back in a commanding way after coming off a three-game losing skid to improve to 8-12.
Senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) got things started right away with a double down the right field line on the second pitch of the game to put Belmont in scoring position early, but Belmont stranded two runners and was scoreless after the first inning.
Sophomore Michael Matter (Ft. Myers, Fla.) earned his first career start on the mound for the Bruins. After a slow start, Matter forced a double play and made an impressive defensive play to tag out a Vanderbilt runner at first to end the inning scoreless.
Vanderbilt scored the first run of the night in the bottom of the third. Junior Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) sat down the first batter that he faced in the inning with his first strike out of the night. After a walk and a base hit, the Commodore's showed some crafty base running to score the first run of the matchup.
Belmont responded quickly, digging in to even the score in the top of the fifth. After a leadoff double by Cogen, senior Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) stepped up to the plate and delivered with a sacrifice fly to center field that knotted things up 1-1.
The Bruins gained momentum in the top of the fifth. After three-consecutive walks, Cogen stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. He and Hadden delivered back-to-back base hits to knock in three runs that put BU back on top. After another walk and base hit, senior Cully Day (Mahomet, Ill.) came to the plate with the bases loaded for the second time in the inning. Day was able to deliver a RBI single. Cogen then took advantage of a Vanderbilt error to tack on the fifth run of the inning to put BU up 6-1. Belmont's five runs are the most that the Commodores have allowed in a single inning so far this season.
Vanderbilt earned back a run in the bottom of the inning, scoring when a wild pitch got away from the Belmont catcher to narrow the lead 6-2.
The Commodores Put together a big threat in the bottom of the sixth. After a leadoff single, the next two batters flew out to right field. Things got dicey for the Bruins when the next two batters were walked to load the bases. Reynolds ,now on the mound for the Bruins, kept his composure and forced another fly out to get out of a jam and strand three Vanderbilt runners.
The Bruins scored again in the top of the seventh. Much like in the top of the fifth, Reynolds found himself at the plate with Cogen on third. Reynolds once again came up big and delivered his second sacrifice fly of the night to give BU a 7-2 lead.
Vanderbilt scored two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Bruin lead to just three runs, but Belmont yet again responded right back. Junior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) started off the top of the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt laid down by pinch hitter sophomore Andrew Guerci (Franklin Lakes, NJ). Conger delivered his second extra-base hit of the night with a RBI double that scored Ehrhart to give Belmont the 8-4 lead.
Freshman Kyle Brennan (Franklin, Tenn.) had an impressive outing on the bump, throwing the final two innings for the Bruins. He was able to retire the Commodores in order in the bottom of the eighth to put the Bruins within three outs of the victory.
The Bruins were unable to score in the top of the ninth, so they took a four-run lead into the bottom of the inning. The Commodore's leadoff runner reached third base on a three-base Belmont throwing error. With one on and no outs, Hadden made a play in foul territory to put the Bruins within two outs. Belmont would commit their second error of the inning, which allowed a run and put another runner on. With just a three-run deficit, Brennan showed great poise on the mound and struck out the final two batters to secure the 8-5 Belmont victory.
Eight Bruins saw time on the mound for the Belmont squad, striking out 12 and walking six.
Belmont's eight runs were the most allowed in a game by Vanderbilt this season.
The Bruins will continue conference play this weekend as they return home to E.S. Rose Park. Belmont will welcome UT Martin for a three-game series. First pitch is slated for Friday, March 24th at 4:00 p.m.