NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball and Southern Illinois combined for 35 runs and 29 hits in a midweek game that lasted more than four hours Tuesday evening inside E.S. Rose Park. BU pulled out a 18-17 victory over the Salukis powered by three different Bruins registering two or more hits.
The Bruins continued their trend of putting up runs early with a four-run second frame initiated by a two-run long ball from senior outfielder Brennan Washington (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). For the third time this season Washington sent one over the left-centerfield fence, the only Bruin to deliver multiple dingers this season. The team followed suit with a single and a pair of walks to load the bases for redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.), who continued his hot hitting with an RBI base knock to increase BU's lead, 3-0. Sophomore infielder Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) tacked on the final run of the inning with a bases loaded walk.
Southern Illinois responded with Salukis residing on all three bases to cut into its deficit with a one-run fielder's choice. They then capitalized on an error by junior infielder Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) to bring SIU within two, 4-2, after the top half of the third.
In the ensuing inning, the Salukis matched Washington's bomb with a two-run shot of their own orchestrated by Hunter Anderson over the left field barrier to knot the game up, 4-4, but only temporarily. They'd go on to claim their first lead, 5-4, aided by Belmont's second miscue of the contest – this time committed senior infielder Drake Byrd (Pigeon Forge, Tenn.).
To no surprise, Cogen registered his sixth multi-hit outing of his rookie campaign in the bottom of the fourth with his second RBI of the day – this time via triple to right-center - to kick start what would develop into a five-run stanza for the Bruins. Senior catcher Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) once again wore out the right-center field with a double to the warning track to add another run. Washington duplicated his previous two-run appearance contributing two more runs after painting the leftfield line for a double – the squad's third extra base hit of the frame. The veteran's two bagger capped the Bruins five-run inning to leave the team with a 9-5 lead.
From then on, both teams traded runs for the next few innings with Belmont continually maintaining the lead. Southern Illinois plated four runs over the next couple of frames, while the Bruins scored nine to hold a 18-9 lead after six. The Salukis used three long balls in the top of the seventh to bring themselves within four and tacked on a couple more the following inning to make the score 18-16 after eight.
Southern Illinois threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, crossing the plate one more time before the Bruins would force two Salukis to be stranded in scoring position to bring the final run total to 18-17. By the end of the slugfest, the first inning was the only frame in which neither team scored a run.
Seven different Bruins took the mound for Belmont with freshman Tyler ALderfer (Perkasie, Pa.) earning the win in his collegiate debut.
Belmont will embark on a seven-game road tilt, hitting the road for the first time this season for a weekend series at Georgia Tech, March 3-5. The Bruins will kick off the three-game series against the Yellow Jackets on Friday, March 3 at 3 p.m. CT.