MARTIN, Tenn. – Belmont baseball puts up a valiant effort, but is unable to overcome a stubborn UT Martin squad that uses late runs to distance themselves and claim its first conference win, 7-4, in game two Saturday afternoon at Skyhawk Field.
Sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) made the most of every plate appearance during the outing, reaching base in all four attempts while collecting a pair of hits and two walks. His first free ride resulted in the Bruins (9-12, 4-4) initial run via a bases loaded base on balls. From the on the first baseman continued to ignite the Bruins offense in their efforts to tie the game up after trailing by four runs through the first five innings.
For the second consecutive day, the Skyhawks (9-11, 1-7) got on the board first with a RBI single from Dan Kerwin in the second, putting UTM up 1-0. They continued to increase their lead in the following frame, posting three additional runs to score four unanswered. The three-hit frame was initiated on a leadoff walk dealt by Belmont's starting pitcher, Dylan King (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). From then on the Skyhawks loaded the bases and piled on the runs with the assistance of a sacrifice fly, base knock and a double to go up 4-0.
While UT Martin's bats continued to heat up, Belmont fell into a slump after an active first game against the Skyhawks. The Bruins only recorded three hits through the first five frames - two from junior Kyle Conger (Franklin, Tenn.) and one from Hadden. The squad found a way to threaten with runners on the corners in the third, but stranded a pair before they could score.
King settled in on the hill and tossed a trio of scoreless frames to keep Belmont's deficit to four-runs as the Bruins continued to search for an answer to UTM's right-handed starter, Dalton Westfall.
BU finally mustered a run compliments of a bases loaded walk to Hadden, bringing the Bruins within three, 4-1, but that's all they'd get stranding another three runners in the sixth. Base knocks from redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) and junior Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) with the addition of senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) wearing a pitch allowed Bruins to reside on all three bags for Hadden to work his magic at the plate and tally his 14th walk of his sophomore campaign and plate BU's first run of the game.
From then on, the Bruins came alive and knotted the game up, 4-4, behind a two-out three-run seventh frame. Cogen walked and Egli singled as Bruins resided on the corners for Bournigal to drive in both runners with a 2 RBI double to right centerfield bringing BU within one, 4-3. Junior infielder Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) plated the tying run on a base shot up the middle, giving Bournigal enough time to reach home before Kocher was thrown out at first, triggering the final out.
UT Martin once again separated themselves with three runs spaced between the seventh and eighth stanzas to secure its first OVC victory, 7-4, of the 2017 campaign.
King wore the loss, making him 2-3 on the year while Westfall moved to 3-2 for the Skyhawks.
The series finale between Belmont and UT Martin is slated for 1 p.m. at Skyhawk Field on Sunday, March 26.