NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont Baseball dropped a 9-6 decision to No. 25 Tennessee Tech in 12 innings on Saturday night, marking the third-consecutive season that the Bruins and Golden Eagles have gone into extra innings.
Tennessee Tech wasted little time getting on the board. After their first batter reached first on an error, their second hitter blasted a two-run home run over the left field fence to take an early 2-0 lead.
Senior Connor Etheridge (Springfield, Ill.) made his 12thstart on the bump for the Bruins. He finished the night, throwing six complete innings, giving up seven hits and four earned runs while striking out three.
It took some time for the Bruins to find their footing offensively, but they finally cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. With two outs, sophomore Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) started a rally with a double to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch during the next at-bat. Junior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) then worked a walk to put the tying run aboard. Senior Cully Day (Mahomet, Ill.) recorded the second hit of the inning with a RBI single to plate the first run and senior Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) delivered the second-consecutive RBI single to tie things up 2-2.
The Bruins were able to keep their momentum and kept Tennessee tech off the board in the fourth and fifth innings.
Belmont took their first lead of the series in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hadden worked a leadoff walk, marking the 146th of his career, breaking the Belmont all-time record. Cogen then reached on a fielders' choice, stole a base, and advanced on an error to make his way 90 feet from home plate with just one out. Gardner then delivered the go-ahead run with a RBI ground out to the shortstop that allowed Cogen to score. With two outs, Day sent a soaring fly ball to the right center warning track, but the Golden Eagles' center fielder made a nice play, ending the inning with minimal damage.
Tennessee Tech wasted no time with a response. In the top of the sixth, the Golden Eagles strung together two-consecutive base hits and a home-run to score three runs and take a 5-3 lead.
Belmont made the call to the bullpen in the seventh inning, calling upon freshman Logan Bowen (Bowling Green, Ky.). Bowen had his second nice outing in as many days. He pitched two complete innings, striking out one and allowing just two hits, none for extra bases.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Freshman Kyle Brennan (Franklin, Tenn.) took over the mound in the top of the ninth. After giving up a leadoff double, Brennan forced a double play and a groundout to get out of the inning unscathed, keeping the Bruins within two runs.
Down by two runs, Belmont needed a rally to stay in game two of the series. Leadoff man, senior Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) got things started with a base hit to left field. Junior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) worked a pinch hit walk to put the tying run aboard with just one out. Senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) came up clutch with a base hit that the center fielder bobbled which allowed Reynolds to score and runners to advance to second and third. Hadden then plated the tying run to even things 5-5. Cogen was then intentionally walked to load the bases, still with one out, but Belmont was not able to plate the winning run and the game headed to extra innings.
As Tennessee Tech faced their first extra-inning game of the season, Brennan forced a three up, three down inning, including forcing a season-high sixth double play of the night to keep things knotted 5-5 after the top of the 10th. The Golden Eagles returned the favor, retiring the Bruins in order to force an 11thinning.
Tennessee Tech recorded a two-out single, but BU was able to keep them off the board heading into the bottom of the inning. Senior Kyle Conger got things started in the bottom of the 11th with a one-out triple that nearly exited the park. This was the second-consecutive game that Conger has recorded a triple. Hadden worked yet another walk to put runners on the corners with one out. Cogen tried to plate the winning run but grounded into a double play, stranding the go-ahed run forcing a 12th inning.
Tennessee Tech took the lead in the top of the 12th after scoring four unearned runs after three hits and the help of a Belmont error to take a 9-5 lead.
Gardner started things off on a positive note with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the 12th. Kocher scored Gardner on a ground out to pull the Bruins within three runs, but a strikeout ended the inning and teh Bruins ultimately fell 9-6.
Belmont and Tennessee Tech meet for the series finale Sunday, May 6th. First pitch is slated for 2:00 p.m. CT. Belmont's six seniors will be honored prior to the game.