NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University baseball dropped a 10-6 decision in the final game of a three-game series with Illinois State on a wet and rainy Saturday afternoon.
Much like in game two, the Redbirds got off to a hot start. With its first five batters notching base hits, two for extra bases, Illinois State jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. Starting pitcher junior Max Marcotte (Coventry, R.I.) was able to keep his composure and stop the hot bats to stop the bleeding.
After a quick out in the bottom of the first inning, sophomore Jackson Campbell (Russellville, Ky.) became the first BU base runner after working a walk. Junior Hagan Severance (Brentwood, Tenn.) followed up with his first hit of the series pushing Campbell to scoring position, but both were stranded, and the Bruins trailed 5-0 after a full inning.
The second inning saw three-up, three-down innings for both squads. In the top of the third, a solo home run, hit batsmen and a line drive increased the ISU lead 7-0. After a brief rain delay, both teams retook the field. Junior Michael Matter (Ft. Myers, Fla.) replaced Marcotte on the mound and made quick work of the Redbirds forcing three-consecutive outs to end the inning.
Belmont started its comeback in the bottom of the third inning when leadoff man freshman Grayson Taylor (Cullman, Ala.) worked a walk and advanced to third on a groundout and wild pitch. With a runner 90 feet from home plate, the Redbirds committed an error allowing the run to score and Severance to reach first base. Junior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) kept the two-out rally going with an RBI double to center field plating the second BU run of the afternoon. Belmont was able to cut into the ISU lead 7-3 after three complete innings.
Belmont was able to keep Illinois State off the board for the next five consecutive innings thanks to its relief pitching and impressive defensive plays by freshman Jack Capobianco (London, Ky.) and Campbell.
Belmont continued to chip away at the Redbirds' lead in the bottom of the seventh. Campbell notched his first hit of the season in the inning with a blooper that the left fielder was unable to run down. Holland came up big yet again with a two-out RBI single cutting the lead 4-7. Freshman Tommy Crider (Madison, Ala.) followed Holland's hit with one of his own, plating the fifth run of the night.
The Bruins made it a one-run ballgame in the bottom of the eighth inning. Sophomore Logan Jarvis (Franklin, Tenn.) worked a one-out walk and would eventually score on a junior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) single up the middle. BU shrank the ISU lead 7-6 going into the decisive ninth inning.
Illinois State's bate came back to life in the top of the ninth, scoring three runs on four hits to extend its lead 10-6.
With the game on the line, the Redbirds got a quick strikeout leaving the Bruins with just two outs. Crider came up big with his second hit of the day with a single to center field. After a nice at-bat freshman John Behrends (Chattanooga, Tenn.) kept Belmont's hopes alive with a single through the right side to give Belmont runners on first and second. Belmont's comeback fell just short after the next two batter struck out. The Bruins ultimately fell 10-6 Sunday afternoon.
Belmont will be back on the diamond on Tuesday February 19 for a midweek matchup against Southern Illinois. First pitch at E.S. Rose Park is slated for 4:00 p.m. CT.