NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont (8-26, 3-5 A-Sun) fell in both games of Saturday's conference doubleheader against Florida Gulf Coast. The Bruins fell in five innings in game one, 1-9, and then lost a wild game two, 6-12.
In game one, Florida Gulf Coast got off to a fast start, posting three runs in the top of the first inning. Belmont responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning after senior Hannah Irwin recorded a one-out single. Irwin advanced to second after sophomore Kat Hollingsworth grounded out for the second out of the inning. Senior Ashley Byers, who was the Bruins' top offensive threat tonight, singled to score Irwin, who slid in under the tag to score Belmont's only run of the game. FGCU would add another run in the top of the second and four more in the top of the third before closing out the game with a run in the top of the fifth inning to reach the final 1-9 margin.
The second game was all offense for both teams, with seven home runs being launched at Rose Park, including five from Florida Gulf Coast. The game started with the Eagles scoring one run in the top of the first on a solo home run. Belmont responded in the bottom of the frame when Byers, Belmont's all-time home run leader, gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead with a two run home run, scoring Irwin who had walked. FGCU added two runs in the top of the second, moving back in front, 2-3. Neither team scored again until the Bruins pulled even in the bottom of the fourth on another home run from Byers. The fifth inning was full of scoring, with Gulf Coast adding six runs, including two solo home runs and a two-run home run in the inning. Belmont responded in the bottom of the inning with three runs of its own, including a single from junior Courtney Elrod, another walk for Irwin, and singles from freshman Heather Turner and Byers, as well as a double from junior Becca Gift. FGCU would add two runs in the top of the sixth inning and one more in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach at 6-12. The Eagles had 12 runs on 12 hits, while Belmont scored six runs on eight hits and committed two errors.
The brightest spot of the night was the hitting of Byers, who had three hits in four at bats, including three RBIs and two runs scored in game two in addition to her one RBI and one hit from the first game. Byers now has six home runs on the season and 25 for her career. She holds the single season record for home runs (10 in 2010) and the career record (25). Byers currently leads the team in batting average (.349), home runs (6), hits (29), and RBIs (19).
Belmont will host Western Kentucky on Wednesday in a non-conference game at Rose Park. The Bruins will again be at home next weekend in a critical conference doubleheader with rival Lipscomb. The Lipscomb game will be the team's "Pink" game for breast cancer awareness. The game against Western Kentucky on Wednesday is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., while the series with Lipscomb will begin at 12 p.m. next Saturday. For all schedule information, statistics, box scores, and full recaps, visit www.belmontbruins.com.