MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Belmont Baseball dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision on Tuesday night in Memphis after a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth sealed the deal for the Tigers.
Belmont took a quick lead in the top of the first inning. After three walks loaded the bases, senior Cully Day (Mahomet, Ill.) worked the fourth walk of the inning to score senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.), taking a 1-0 lead after an inning.
Memphis put their first runner in scoring position with just one out in the top of the third, but sophomore Michael Matter (Ft. Myers, Fla.), who got the start on the mound, forced a pop up and a groundout to preserve the one-run lead.
After a scoreless second and third, the Tigers found the equalizer in the bottom of the fourth. After a leadoff hit, a Belmont error, and a stolen base, Memphis had a runner just 90 feet from home plate. Memphis knotted things up after scoring on a wild pitch to make things 1-1 after four innings.
Memphis increased their lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two runs after two hits. Sophomore Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) stopped the damage there when he struck out the side for the Bruins' first strikeout of the night.
Senior Ben Kocher recorded Belmont's second hit of the night in the top of the sixth with a one-out single through the right side, but he was stranded, and the Bruins' were unable to take advantage of the base runner.
Junior Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) took the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning and pitched a beautiful inning, forcing the first three up, three down inning of the night for the squad.
Belmont cracked the scoreboard once again in the top of the seventh. After two quick outs, Conger got things going, working a walk, giving the Bruins a base runner. Junior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) then came up big and delivered a RBI single up the middle, plating Conger and cutting the lead 3-2.
Memphis wasted little time stretching the lead back out after taking advantage of a walk and a wild pitch to take a 4-2 lead with a runner on first and just one out. Senior Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) was able to catch a runner stealing and freshman Logan Bowen (Bowling Green, Ky.) came up with a big strikeout to end the inning.
The Bruins continued the back and forth action in the top of the eighth. Junior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) started the inning off with a single to left field. Day then plated Gardner with a RBI double to the right field wall cutting the lead 4-3. Junior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) got in on the action, delivering the second-consecutive to-out RBI double to plate the tying run. The next batter flew out to right field to end the inning, but not before the Bruins tied things 4-4.
The Tigers threatened to score the go ahead run after a leadoff single and a sacrifice put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Bowen dug deep and forced a ground out and struck out the side in consecutive innings to keep the Tigers off the board.
The Bruins came close to scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. After Conger is hit by a pitch and two walks, the Bruins had the bases loaded with just one out, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the inning, stranding Conger just 90 feet from home plate.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers worked a leadoff walk and recorded their ninth hit of the night to put two runners on. With one out, the Bruins intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases. Memphis' next batter then delivered a game-winning sacrifice fly and the Bruins fell 5-4.
The Bruins travel to Southeast Missouri State for their final conference series of the season. First pitch of the series is slated for 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 11th.