JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Belmont University Baseball struggled on Friday night, dropping a 9-0 decision at Jacksonville State. On a slow offensive outing for the Bruins, the night was highlighted defensively by a career outing from relief pitcher junior Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) on the mound.
Belmont's night got off to a good start with senior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) notching a leadoff hit to right field. Despite the quick start, a pickoff, ground out and fly ball retired Belmont in order in the top half of the first.
Jacksonville State surged to an early lead in the bottom of the first. A leadoff home run, two base hits and a walk led to a two-run first inning for the Gamecocks. JSU increased its lead in the bottom of the second, scoring two more runs for a 4-0 lead after two complete.
The Bruins continued to struggle at the plate and were downed in order for the third-consecutive inning. JSU continued to swing the bat well and took a 6-0 lead after three innings.
Ehrhart continued to be BU's offensive spark in the top of the fourth. He once again laced a leadoff single to give Belmont a base runner, but Belmont couldn't keep the momentum going and remained scoreless after four.
Fowlkes came to the mound as a relief pitcher in the bottom of the fourth. He came on strong, forcing three outs, including two strikeouts, to end the inning, keeping JSU off the board for the first time of the night. Fowlkes' night continued in the bottom of the fifth, notching two more punch outs to keep Belmont within striking distance.
The Bruins' offensive woes continued into the top of the sixth. Belmont, who had good at-bats all night long that went deep in the count, struggled get any offensive momentum going and were retired in order.
Jacksonville State scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run home run for an 8-0 lead.
Senior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) tried to will some offense in the top of the seventh, working a leadoff walk. Hadden, however, was stranded.
Fowlkes continued his impressive outing in the bottom of the seventh, retiring the Gamecocks in order for the first time of the night.
Jacksonville State rounded out the night's scoring in the bottom of the eighth, scoring its ninth run of the night.
Fowlkes notched six strikeouts on the night, marking a new career high.
With a 9-0 deficit, pinch hitter freshman Carson Shacklett (Brentwood, Tenn.) worked a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth. A double play and a groundout would, however, end BU's night as the Bruins fell 9-0.
The teams will play a double header on Saturday with weather threatening the area on Sunday. First pitch is slated for 2:00 p.m. April 13 at JSU Stadium.