Bruins Win Two In Double Header Against Illinois State
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont Baseball Team (2-1, 0-0) defeated Illinois State (1-2, 0-0) in both ends of a double header at Shelby Park in Nashville Saturday afternoon. The Bruins topped the Redbirds 5-4 in the first contest and then took game two by a score of 6-3.
Solid hitting and superior relief pitching were the keys to today's victories for Belmont. The Bruins finished with 16 hits in only 12 innings of offensive action, while the bullpen was credited with six innings of scoreless pitching during the two wins.
"I was pretty low key last night with the loss, and we have to maintain balance even when we win," Head Coach David Jarvis said. "I think the guys performed well today but there are still a lot of things that we want to get better at. I thought we had quality at bats today, up and down our lineup."
After giving up one run in the top of the first, Belmont took a 2-1 lead in the second half of the inning when junior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and senior Tim Egerton (Smyrna, Tenn.) each recorded runs batted in off of ground outs. Junior Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.), who led off with a single, and senior Derek Hamblen (Plano, Texas), who drew a walk, scored for the Bruins.
Belmont increased the lead to 3-1 when Hamblen led off the third with a solo shot to right center field. Craig bunted his way to first and Egerton walked, before sophomore Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) drove Craig home on a single to center field to make it 4-1 in favor of the Bruins.
Starting pitcher Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) allowed only one run through the first three and two thirds innings before surrendering three to the Redbirds with two outs in the fourth. Junior Matt Hamann came in from the pen to pitch two scoreless innings on no hits for Illinois State.
In the bottom of the sixth Belmont took the 5-4 lead that would end up as the final score when senior Nate Woods (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) drove in Hamblen on a double to center field. Hamblen scored from first base after reaching on a hit by pitch.
Senior closer Jon Ivie came for a one, two, three seventh inning to record his first save of the season. The Bruins finished game one with five runs on nine hits, with one error. The Redbirds accumulated four runs on seven hits and no errors. Hamann was credited with the win for Belmont, while Jacob Wielebnicki was the losing pitcher of record for Illinois State.
Sophomore Josh Davis started on the mound for Belmont in game two on Saturday, and after giving up two runs in the first inning, he put forth three scoreless innings to help the Bruins keep an early lead. Four runs in the third inning gave BU a 5-1 lead that was not relinquished.
Hamblen and Woods led off the third with a pair of infield singles, before Craig single to right field to load the bases. Senior Matt Zeblo was then hit by a pitch which scored Hamblen. A two RBI double to center by Egerton then scored Craig and Woods. Sophomore Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) finished off the scoring as his ground out to shortstop scored Zeblo from third base.
Senior Dalton Bell (Crossville, Tenn.) relieved Davis in the fifth inning, and pitched two innings of scoreless baseball while recording four strikeouts. Ivie then came in for the seventh and final inning to record his second save of the day, allowing no hits for the second straight game.
The Bruins finished game two with six runs on seven hits and four errors, while the Redbirds totaled three runs on eight hits and three errors. Davis earned the win for Belmont after giving up only one earned run in four innings, while JD Learnard was credited with the loss for Illinois State.
"I thought our bullpen was outstanding," Jarvis said. "I give a lot of credit to Matt Hamann and Dalton Bell in their setup roles, and also Jon Ivie for coming in and closing the doors. Those were outstanding performances by our bullpen guys, and I think they are the key to the destiny of this team. I feel that if we get consistent performances like that, then things will head in a positive direction for us."
Senior catcher Vinny Casha (Nashville, Tenn.) tallied two hits in each of today's games as he leads Belmont with a batting average of .625 after three games. "I'm extremely happy for Vinny, because offensively he's made some really great mental as well as swing adjustments," Jarvis added. "It is really starting to pay dividends for him right now. Plus he's given us extremely good energy, catching 21 innings in the last 24 hours. There's a lot to be said for that."
"Dylan Craig is showing the same type of consistency at the plate that he has since he started here," said Jarvis. "That type of performance is a mainstay for us." Craig finished the day with three hits, two runs batted in and two runs.
Belmont and Illinois State will return to the field tomorrow to finish off the four game series. The 1:00 p.m. game will once again take place at Shelby Park in Nashville.
"James Buckelew will get the start tomorrow and I'm anxious to see him throw," Jarvis concluded. "This early in the season, in a nine inning ball game, the bullpen will be a major factor once again. We have other arms that will look to contribute tomorrow as well. It's supposed to be an extremely warm day so I encourage everybody to come out and see the game."