Homers By Ritchie, Craig Lead Baseball Over ETSU In A-Sun Opener

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Belmont baseball team (12-7, 1-0) opened up Atlantic Sun Conference play with an 8-2 victory on the road at ETSU (9-7, 0-1) Friday afternoon.  The Bruins have now won eight straight games against the Buccaneers, and became the first team to top ETSU in the conference's opening weekend since 2009.

The Bruins opened the scoring with three runs in the top of the second.  Junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) led the inning off with a bunt single to third base.  He then came around to score on freshman Matt Beaty's (Dresden, Tenn.) second triple of the year, a driving shot down the right field line.

Junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) reached on a fielder's choice as Beaty was called out attempting to score from third, and then scored himself on freshman Jamie Ritchie's (Buford, Ga.) first career home run. The Belmont catcher drove the ball over the left field fence to make it 3-0 in favor of the Bruins.

The Belmont offense got on a roll in the fourth, adding five runs to take an 8-0 lead.  Beaty led off the inning with a single through the right side, stole second base, and then scored when Ritchie reached first on a throwing error by ETSU.  Ritchie then came around to score on a double to right field by senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.).

Junior Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.) recorded his second single of the day driving in Mitchell.  Senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) then drove in Breen on a home run to right field.  It marked Craig's first homer of the season, and gave the Bruins a comfortable eight run lead over the Bucs.

ETSU made its first challenge to Belmont starting pitcher Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) in the fifth inning.  The Bucs recorded a double and a single to start the frame, giving them men on first and third with no outs.  Brookshire struck out two straight batters and got the next to fly out to right field to get the Bruins out of the jam.

The Bucs fought back in the sixth, finally scoring two to make it 8-2.  A walk by Matthew Scruggs, and singles from Andrew Green, Dylan Pratt, and Derek Niesman put ETSU on the board for the first and last time Friday afternoon.

Neither team was able to score in the final three innings of the contest.  Brookshire finished up his outing with a scoreless seventh, before handing the ball over to freshman Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) for a pair of shutout innings of relief to end the game.

Brookshire improved to 2-1 on the season in the win.  The left-hander allowed two runs on eight hits.  He walked one batter and struck out two.  Moses allowed no runs on just one hit.

Craig and Ritchie led the Bruins at the plate with two hits, including a home run each.  Craig also doubled in the game, giving him 282 hits for his career, now the second most in Belmont history.  Beaty and Breen also recorded a pair of hits in the victory.

The Bruins finished with eight runs on 12 hits and no errors.  The Bucs totaled two runs on eight hits and two errors.  Derek Bushey fell to 1-2 on the year after allowing eight runs, three of which were earned, on nine hits in five innings pitched.  

The two teams will square off again on Saturday and Sunday.  The first pitch for games two and three is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT.