NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Trailing with two down and no one on base in the bottom of the eighth, senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) stepped up to the plate and blasted his second double of the day to ignite a five-run rally that propelled Belmont Baseball past Bowling Green, 7-5, in the final game of the Mule Mix Classic Sunday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park.
After a disastrous fourth inning that saw Bowling Green (0-6) post five runs and dig Belmont (3-4) into a 5-2 hole, the Bruins struggled to get their offense firing. The squad, who started the game with a two-run advantage early, were only able to register one hit in 15 plate appearances spanning four and 2/3 innings before Egli broke the spell with his two-out two bagger. From then on the Bruins were rolling, recording a pair of walks to load the bases for junior infielder Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) who laced a two-run single up left field and brought the Bruins within one, 5-4.
Recording a team-best fifth multi-hit outing of the year, redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) tallied his third hit of the day to load the bases for the second time in the eighth with two-outs still lit on the scoreboard. That sent sophomore infielder Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) to the batter's box with the game-winning run on base. Hadden, who had yet to get a hit all day, delivered a base knock down the left line for 2 RBIs and the Bruins had claimed the 7-5 advantage before Bowling Green was able to get the third out.
For the second consecutive day the Bruins got out to an early lead, hanging up two runs in the opening frame. Leadoff hitter, Conger did his job connecting on a single up the middle to bring up Belmont's hottest hitter Cogen to the plate. The Franklin, Tennessee product didn't skip a beat, lacing a RBI triple to the right field warning track for his 10th hit of the year. Bowling Green's starting pitcher, Zac Carey, lost his next toss to allow Cogen to get home on a wild pitch and put BU up, 2-0.
Sophomore hurler Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) started the game dialing up six strikeouts through the first couple of frames, but struggled to settle in after that. Head coach Dave Jarvis called on junior reliever Connor Etheridge (Springfield, Ill.) to takeover on the mound with one down in the fourth, inheriting runners on all three bases. The inning continued to go downhill, as Etheridge issued an RBI walk and a couple of singles to allow the Falcons to go up 5-2. Bowling Green went on to work its way through the lineup and load the bases for the third time before Etheridge could trigger the third out via strikeout.
Etheridge ensured that no further damage be done on the scoreboard, tossing consecutive three up, three down innings in the fifth and sixth. BU looked to cut into its deficit in the bottom half of both frames, but couldn't get anything to go stranding three runners. Initially the Bruins left Conger and Cogen on first and second after they both reached with base on balls. Junior infielder Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) started the sixth with a free ride himself, but was caught stealing second – a play that would prove costly as senior catcher Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) took the plate. Payne ripped the Bruins second triple of the day, a hit that would've brought in Bournigal and put BU within two, but instead they headed to the seventh still down, 5-2.
The Falcons forced the Bruins to hang up six scoreless frames before they'd mount their monstrous comeback in the eighth. Etheridge would finish the day logging 3 and 2/3 innings of work, striking out eight of the 14 batters. Sophomore righty Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) replaced Etheridge in the eighth to collect his first win on the mound of the year, while veteran closer Dom Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) earned the save sitting down Bowling Green's final three batters.
Belmont will conclude its eight-game home tilt hosting Southern Illinois at E.S. Rose Park for a midweek match up on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m.