MURRAY, Ky. – Belmont Baseball dropped a 5-4 decision to Murray State Friday night after a costly eighth inning.
After being retired in order in the first inning, the Bruins buckled down and took an early two-run lead in the second. After leadoff man junior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) started things with a single through the left side, senior Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) scored Hadden and himself with a home run over the right field fence to take an early 2-0 lead.
The Racers answered with some momentum of their own in the bottom of the second. They put a runner on base early as the leadoff man skirted a double down the third base line. The very next batter sent a RBI double to right center field to put Murray State on the board (2-1). After a hit batsman put Racers on first and second base with just one out, the Bruins turned a close double play to stop any further damage.
After a scoreless third, the Racers knotted things up in the bottom of the fourth. After a leadoff single and a hit batsman, Murray had the tying run in scoring position. The Racers tied things up 2-2 when the lead runner stole third base and took advantage of a throwing error on the play to score the tying run.
Belmont retook the lead in the top of the fifth. Freshman Jordan Henshaw (New Market, Ala.) got things going with a one-out single to left field. Junior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) sent a chopper to the shortstop that forced an error allowing him to make it to second and push Henshaw just 90 feet from home plate. Senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) came up with a much-needed timely hit sending a two-out double to left field that plated two more runs. The Bruins would work a couple walks to load the bases but left them loaded and finishing their half of the inning with a 4-2 advantage.
The Racers wasted no time tying things back up with a two-run home run of their own in the bottom of the fifth, making the score 4-4.
Belmont put together a big threat in the top of the sixth after stringing together consecutive base hits and a walk to load the bases after two quick outs, but the Bruins would leave the bases loaded for the second-straight inning.
After scoreless sixth and seventh innings, the Racers finally broke the tie. Murray State took advantage of a leadoff walk and a base hit to take a 5-4 lead heading into the final inning of play.
After a quick out, senior Cully Day (Mahomet, Ill.) worked a walk to put the tying run aboard, keeping the Bruins' hopes alive. Conger grounded out next but pushed Day to scoring position. Day advanced to third base on a wild pitch with Belmont's best batter, sophomore Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.), at the plate. With a full count, Cogen made good contact with the ball, but flew out to right field and the Bruins fell 5-4.
Senior Tyler Vaughn (Jonesboro, Ill.) pitched seven innings and struck out nine. Sophomore Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) was the only Belmont reliever utilized. He pitched an inning, walking none and striking out one.
Game two of the series will be Saturday, April 28th. First pitch is slated for 2:00 p.m. CT.