NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Belmont baseball will take on neighborhood rival, Lipscomb, in a midweek tilt on Tuesday, March 14. The Bruins will host the Bisons at E.S. Rose Park with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.
ABOUT THE BRUINS
Belmont enters the Battle of the Boulevard coming off a pair off conference wins to claim its first OVC series, 2-1, against Eastern Kentucky last week. The Bruins now boast an overall record of 7-8, including having registered their first shutout of the year as junior hurler Connor Etheridge (Springifeld, Ill.) tossed a career-high 12 strikeouts in the finale to beat EKU, 2-0.
At the plate, BU has seen consistent contributions from senior designated hitter Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) and redshirt-freshman outfielder Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.). In four of Belmont's last five games Egli has registered at least two RBIs and a pair of hits, sparking the Bruins offense early and often. He's registered a .341 batting average while collecting 14 hits, nine which have been extra base shots. Cogen has also been crucial at the plate, tallying a team-best 21 hits this season, including seven multi-hit outings. Junior infielder Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) leads the squad with a .370 BA after going 3-for-4 at the plate against EKU and launching his first long ball of the season.
The pitching staff has been headed by a dominant weekend starting crew composed of Tyler Vaughn (Jonesboro, Ill.), Dylan King (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Etheridge. Collectively, the trio has triggered 90 of the squads 136 strikeouts through the first four weeks of the season with each of them ranking in the top-eight of the statistical category. Most recently, King and Etheridge sat down 24 batters in the team's double header against EKU (3.10). Both righties produced double digit Ks in their respective outings en route to sweeping the Colonels in the DH. King leads the staff with a 3.04 ERA, while Vaughn has sat down a team-high 29 batters via strikeout. The Bruins have also seen extensive production from their bullpen with 10 different pitchers taking the hill for Belmont. Sophomore Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) leads the OVC with nine appearances, tossing 14.1 innings and earning a record of 1-1 on the mound. Senior closer Dom Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) has earned both of Belmont's saves this season.
KING OF THE HILL
King ranks 28th in the nation having tossed a blistering 34 strikeouts through his first four starts of his sophomore campaign. He sits second in the conference in Ks and sixth with a 3.04 ERA in 23.2 innings of work. The right-handed hurler tossed his second 11 strike out outing of the year at EKU (3.10), tying a career-best. He previously fanned 11 batters against Northwestern (2.25) - both performances led to Belmont victories. The Murfreesboro, Tenn. is the only Bruin that has sat down more than 10 batters via strikeout in multiple games in 2017.
DEALING A DOZEN
Junior right-hander Connor Etheridge wreaked havoc on EKU on the Bruins series finale against the Colonels last week, hurling a career-best 12 strikeouts and only allowing four hits. Etheridge only allowed multiple base runners in the first inning against Eastern Kentucky, striking out at least one batter in every frame. He powered Belmont to its first shutout of the year, blanking EKU 2-0. The Springfield, Illinois product has combined for 27 Ks in 18.2 innings of work, boasting an ERA of 3.86. Etheridge is eighth in the league in strikeouts.
IN THE NICK OF TIME
Nick Egli has played a crucial role in sparking the Bruins offense as the designated hitter. He was the one who provoked a five-run two-out rally against Bowling Green with a two bagger that would go on to help Belmont post its first come-from-behind victory. He then ignited Belmont's offense in the first two innings against then-No. 17 Georgia Tech and at Western Kentucky, registering hits in his first two plate appearances in both contests. Egli then went on to post a pair of multi-RBI games in BU's double header against EKU, including driving in the Bruins only two runs in the squads 2-0 shutout in the second contest. Nine of his 14 hits this season have been extra base knocks.
I'M LOVE-LL-ING IT
Redshirt-junior Ben Lovell (St. Louis, Mo.) has provided the Bruins with solid relief on the hill throughout the start of the season, logging 9.0 innings and only giving up one earned run. He's compiled a 1.0 ERA to lead Belmont's bullpen staff through the first 15 games.
BRINGING THE HEAT
After sitting out early on in the season, Kocher is currently leading Belmont's behind a 3-for-4 performance at the plate in the Bruins second game against EKU. Kocher delivered his first long ball of the season to ignite the Bruins offense against the Colonels. During the double header, he had four hits, two runs and a pair of RBI. The Zionsville, Indiana product leads the team with a .370 ERA.
The Bruins have registered a double in 13 of its first 15 contests, including connecting on at least two in 11 games. They hold a 6-4 mark when recording multiple two-base shots.
NO PAYNE NO GAIN
Senior catcher Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) is the driving force of Belmont's defense - starting behind the plate in all but one game this season. He's tallied 103 putouts - ranking sixth in the conference. The veteran also caught six runners attempting to steal, tied for the most in the OVC. Payne was recently named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list that honors elite catchers throughout the nation.
Right-handed pitcher Tyler Vaughn has earned the Friday start for the Bruins in each of their first four weekend series. In his four appearances, the hurler has struck out 29 batters through 24.2 innings of work - ranking him fifth in the league. The Jonesboro, Ill. product tossed nine Ks in each of his first two starts on the hill. He's collected an ERA of 6.93 so far in his junior campaign.
- The Bruins return home after enduring a seven-game road swing where they went 3-4. Belmont enters the Battle of the Boulevard boasting a 7-8 overall record.
- Coach Jarvis is in the midst of his 20th season at the helm of BU, compiling an overall record of 565-506-2 with the program. Collectively, Jarvis has earned an 889-657-2 mark in his 28-year coaching career.
- Belmont leads the all-time series, 27-18, against the Bisons. The Bruins swept the midweek series against Lipscomb last year, including plating 23 runs while hosting their neighborhood foe. BU is 5-1 in the last six meetings with the Bisons.
- The squad has six different Bruins who rank in the top-10 of conference statistics - Nick Egli (fourth slugging percentage .732), Dylan King (second in strikeouts with 34, sixth ERA 3.04), Tyler Vaughn (fifth in strikeouts 29), Connor Etheridge (8th strikeouts with 27) and Chas Hadden (sixth with 10 walks).
The Battle of the Boulevard will be featured on the OVC Digital Network and Bruin Sports Network. You can also follow our twitter page, @belmontbaseball and with live stats at ekusports.com for in-game updates.