CAPE GIRARDEU, Mo. – Belmont Baseball dropped a 9-8 decision on Saturday night at Southeast Missouri State.
The Bruins took a 3-0 lead in consecutive nights in similar ways. After a scoreless first inning, Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch and senior Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) advanced him and reached base with a single up the middle. Junior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) came up big and scorched a one-out long ball over the left field fence, giving the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
The Redhawks wasted little time getting a run back. In the bottom of the second, SEMO scored on after a triple and RBI single to tighten things up 3-1.
Belmont kept their momentum going into the third inning. After a leadoff hit by sophomore Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) and a hit by Reynolds, Kocher came up big once again with a single to center field, plating both base runners giving the Bruins a 5-1 lead.
The Bruins took what felt like a comfortable lead into the bottom of the third, but the Redhawks dug in and scored four runs in the inning tying things 5-5.
SEMO retook the lead in the bottom of the fourth after two walks, a base hit, and a sacrifice fly scored two runs and put the Redhawks up 7-5.
Belmont responded immediately, knotting things back up in the top of the fifth. Cogen started things off with his third-consecutive hit, a double down the right line. Junior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) then worked a walk and senior Cully Day (Mahomet, Ill.) tied things 7-7 with a double to left center.
Sophomore Michael Matter (Ft. Myers, Fla.) was able to keep the Redhawks off the board in the bottom of the fifth, facing just four batters.
In the top of the sixth, leadoff man senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) reached on an error, and it was a costly one for Southeast Missouri. After a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.), Gardner plated the go-ahead run with a base hit through the left side giving the Bruins the 8-7 lead.
Matter had another impressive inning on the mound, retiring the Redhawks in order to preserve the lead.
SEMO tied things back up 8-8 in this back-to-back game in the bottom of the seventh after a double and suicide squeeze play. Junior Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) pitched the final two-third of the seventh, and his appearance marked the 95thin his career, setting the Belmont record for career pitching appearances.
After the Bruins were held off the board in the top of the eighth, SEMO started to put together a two-out run in the bottom of the inning. Two-consecutive singles put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Klotz forced a ground out to get out of the jam.
After two outs in the top of the ninth, Kocher worked a walk to put the go-ahead run aboard, but he was stranded as the next batter flew out.
The Bruins needed to keep Southeast Missouri scoreless in the bottom of the ninth to stay alive. The leadoff man was hit by a pitch and stole second to put the winning run in scoring position with no outs. The Bruins then called on sophomore Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) to try and get them out of a jam from the mound who pitched one batter before freshman Logan Bowen (Bowling Green, Ky.) entered the game with runners on the corners and no outs. The Redhawks scored the final run of the game on a Belmont error giving them consecutive walk off wins defeating the Bruins 9-8.