Baseball Falls at Auburn in Bottom of the Ninth
AUBURN, Ala. – The Belmont baseball team (8-6) scored two runs to tie the game in the top of the ninth, but it wasn't enough to top Auburn (9-6), who scored one in the bottom of the ninth to win the first game of the weekend series by a score of 6-5 on Friday night.
The Bruins allowed Auburn to get out to a quick start, giving up three runs to the Tigers over the first two innings. Belmont countered quickly, though, tying the game at 3-3 with a trio of runs in the top of the third.
Freshman Alec Diamond (Kennesaw, Ga.) walked to lead off the inning, and sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch to put two runners on for senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.). The Belmont second baseman then doubled down the right field line to drive in BU's first run of the game. The final two runs of the inning scored as junior Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) reached on an error.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Auburn regained the lead at 5-3 on a disastrous defensive third inning by Belmont. After the first two Tiger batters flied out and grounded out, Belmont starting pitcher Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) walked a batter and then gave up a single to left field.
The next Auburn batter popped up in the infield, which should have ended the inning, but three Belmont players could not decide on who was going to catch the ball. It ended up as an RBI single, giving Auburn the lead once again. A bunt single to Brookshire, followed by a throwing error by the pitcher ended the Tiger scoring during the frame, and gave them a 5-3 lead that remained until the ninth.
From the fourth inning through the eighth, neither team was able to get on the board. A double by junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) in the eighth extended the inning, and allowed for the Belmont top of the order to bat in the ninth.
Mitchell led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. He then advanced to third on a huge double by Breen. Mitchell and Breen, who similarly doubled to win the game against Murray State on Wednesday, both scored on a pair of sacrifice flies by senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and sophomore Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.). The Bruins tied the game at 5-5 and were still alive heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Freshman pitcher Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.), who had allowed only one run before tonight, relieved Brookshire in the seventh inning and left the Tigers hitless before the ninth. The Belmont defensive struggles continued, as Brody committed the third Bruin error of the night to start the frame. Auburn speedster Jay Gonzalez then stole second, and eventually scored the winning run on a single through the infield by Cullen Wacker.
Belmont finished the game with five runs on six hits and three errors. Brookshire allowed five runs, four of which were earned, on 10 hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out five batters and walked two in the no decision. Moses picked up the loss, allowing just the one run on one hit in 1.2 innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.
Craig led the Bruin offense with a two-for-four night and one RBI. Mitchell scored two runs, tallied the double, and drove in one run. Breen, Turner, and junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) also added doubles in the loss. The latter recorded his team leading sixth of the season.
Auburn totaled six runs on 11 hits and one error in the win. Closer Justin Bryant picked up the win after blowing the save in the top of the ninth. He allowed two earned runs on one hit in 1.1 innings pitched. Zach Alvord hit a two-run home run and went two-for-four for the Auburn offense. Creede Simpson also went three-for-five in the victory.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday for the second game of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. with senior captain Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) taking the mound for Belmont.