NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Late inning heroics once again sealed a Belmont University Baseball victory with an 8-7 decision over Ohio Valley Conference foe, Southeast Missouri State University. With the Friday night win, BU improves to 17-8 in OVC play.
Belmont got off to a slow start when the Redhawks scored four runs in the first two innings to take an early 4-0 lead and the Bruins' offense struggled.
After being retired in order the first two innings, the BU offense finally got going in the bottom of the third. Junior Hagan Severance (Brentwood, Tenn.) notched Belmont's first hit with a single through the left side that freshman John Behrends (Chattanooga, Tenn.) followed that up with a walk. Both runners then scored when sophomore Jackson Campbell (Russellville, Ky.) doubled to center field, cutting the SEMO lead in half. Campbell scored later in the inning on a groundout to put Belmont just behind the Redbirds 4-3.
Both teams scored a run in the top of the fourth by way of solo home runs for a 5-4 score after four complete. After SEMO increased its lead with a solo shot in the top of the inning, Severance kept his bat hot and hammered a long ball of his own to keep BU within a run.
After a scoreless fifth, SEMO continued to add to its run total with a run each in the top of the sixth and seventh to take a 7-4 lead.
The Bruins continued to find ways to score and keep the pressure on the Redhawks and a three-run bottom of the seventh tied things up. After two walks and a fly ball to center field that Campbell advanced to third on, the Bruins had runners on the corners with two outs. Senior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) then delivered a clutch double that the center fielder bobbled allowing both runners to score and Gardner to make his way to third. With two outs, BU continued to rally, loading the bases after consecutive walks. Severance continued to be a tough at bat for the Redhawks, as he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the ballgame 7-7. A groundout ended the inning for BU, but the damage was done.
Sophomore Kyle Brennan (Franklin, Tenn.) was called on from the Belmont bullpen in the eighth. He inherited the go-ahead run on first base but forced three quick outs to keep the game tied.
BU worked a leadoff walk for the third-consecutive inning in the bottom of the eighth but was unable to drive the go-ahead run across the plate.
Brennan continued on the bump in the top of the ninth and kept SEMO off the board with the help of two strikeouts.
The Bruins headed to the bottom of the ninth, needing just one run to secure the victory and the Bruins' first walk off win of the season. Freshman Grayson Taylor (Cullman, Ala.) worked yet another leadoff walk to put the winning run aboard with no outs. Taylor used heads-up base running to advance to scoring position on a wild pitch. At the plate, Severance hammered a grounder straight at the first baseman, who bobbled the ball, and Taylor came around to score from second on the error to give BU the 8-7 victory.
Brennan earned his fourth win of the season on the hill.
With the victory, Belmont stays atop the Ohio Valley Conference with a 17-8 record. Game two of the series is set for Saturday, May 4 at 6:00 p.m. CT.