NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a late-inning rally, Belmont University Baseball defeated Ohio Valley Conference foe, Murray State 9-6 on Thursday afternoon. The Bruins improve to 12-7 in OVC play and the Racers fall to 10-6.
Murray State wasted no time getting on the board, scoring three runs in the top of the first. After the four-hit inning, the Racers led things 3-0.
From the start of the afternoon, the Bruins made good contact with the ball, but were unable to find the gaps and were held scoreless through two complete.
In the top of the third, sophomore Korey Bell (Brentwood, Tenn.) continued his work on the mound for the Bruins. A hit and a walk put two Racers on, but Bell got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
With a 3-0 deficit, senior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) looked to get things going for the Bruins. A two-out single gave BU just its third base runner of the day. Ehrhart, however, was caught stealing and Belmont's efforts were halted.
Both squads' leadoff men were aboard in their respective halves of the fourth inning, but the teams traded double plays to keep the score.
The Racers added to its lead in the top of the fifth after scoring on a wild pitch and home run to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Junior Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.), who relieved Bell in the bottom of the fourth, kept Murray State scoreless in the top of the sixth to keep BU within striking distance.
Belmont biggest offensive threat so far in the game came in the bottom of the fourth. After a Jackson Campbell (Russellville, Ky.) single and consecutive walks by Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) and Chandler Adkins (Knoxville, Tenn.), Belmont had the bases loaded with two outs. Murray State was able to force a pop up to strand all three of Belmont's runners to get out of the inning unscathed.
With a 5-0 deficit, Fowlkes notched the first three up, three down inning of the day for Belmont in the top of the seventh.
The Bruins were finally able to crack the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back singles by freshmen Tommy Crider (Madison, Ala.) and John Behrends (Chattanooga, Tenn.) put BU runners on first and second. Campbell then stepped to the plate and came up huge with a triple to score both, cutting Murray State's lead 5-2. Campbell then scored on a wild pitch before the final out of the inning to make the score 5-3 after seven.
The Racers earned back a run in the top of the eighth for a 6-3 lead.
Belmont used its heroics in the bottom of the eighth to make up ground. Hadden worked a leadoff walk to get the inning going before Adkins doubled to put two runners on scoring position. A Devon Gardner single and a wild pitch cut the Murray lead 6-5. Belmont loaded the bases with no outs after senior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) walked and freshman Grayson Taylor (Cullman, Ala.) singled. After a foul ball was caught, Behrends was due up. His chopper to the second basemen was the second out, but it was good enough to score the tying run and prevent the double play. After another walk, BU loaded the bases yet again and Ehrhart delivered a base clearing double to give Belmont a 9-6 lead.
With Belmont's first lead of the night, sophomore Kyle Brennan (Franklin, Tenn.) took the mound to attempt to close out the game for the Bruins. He notched the save, striking out the side for his 26th consecutive scoreless inning.
Belmont's 9-6 victory put them a game ahead of Murray State in the OVC race who came into the day tied with BU for second.
Fowlkes improved to 1-0 on the season, earning his first decision. Brennan's save marks his third of the season.
Game two of the series will be played Friday, April 19 with first pitch slated for 11:00 a.m. CT.