NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball committed a pair of costly errors that aided to Middle Tennessee's 6-4 victory over the Bruins Tuesday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park.
BU (10-13, 5-4) posted couple of consecutive two-run frames in the fifth and sixth to tie the game up, but miscues late in the game plagued the Bruins as both errors contributed to a pair of runs and the difference in the ballgame.
A five-hit third frame costed the Bruins three runs after the Middle Tennessee bats caught fire. The Blue Raiders led off the frame with a pair of hits, allowing a sacrifice fly from Aaron Antonini to score the first run. From then on MTSU laced three more base knocks to bring in a pair of runs and put BU in the hole, 3-0.
Middle Tennessee once again found a way to threaten putting runners on second and third on a pair of singles given up be Belmont's starting hurler, Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.). With one down, the Blue Raiders recorded back-to-back hits to put pressure on Queener before the Bruins defense produced the final two outs and get out of the jam without any further damage done.
With one swing of the bat senior Tyler Walsh (Evansville, Ind.) blasted his first long ball of the season into the Belmont bullpen to bring the Bruins within one in the home half of the fifth. Junior infielder Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) collected BU's first leadoff hit of the day with a single down the third base line. A fly out put one down and brought Walsh up to bring Belmont within striking distances compliments of his two-run shot to make the score, 3-2.
A costly throwing error from Kocher in the top of the sixth allowed Middle Tennessee to tack on its fourth run and double its advantage, 4-2. Freshman left-handed pitcher Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) came in to relieve in the fifth and surrendered a hit to start the sixth. A sacrifice bunt and short throw from Kocher to first baseman Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) put runners on the corners with two away before a single from Brad Jarreau brought in the unearned run.
For the second consecutive inning the Bruins hung up two runs and knotted the game up, 4-4 on a two-out rally spark by none other than senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) who has come up clutch multiple times this season. The squad pieced together a pair of runs in an improbable sequence of events. Egli was dealt a walk in which he followed up by stealing second before advancing to third on a wild pitch. The Brentwood, Tenn. product then left it up to junior Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) who dropped a single in front of the MTSU second baseman. Bournigal dove into first base and was called safe, driving in Egli and making it a one run game. With two outs still lit on the scoreboard, Kocher registered his second hit and brought in Bournigal to tie it up.
Belmont continued to stifle Middle Tennessee, this time it was on the defensive end as senior Brennan Washington (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) made an incredible diving catch as the ball soared foul in right field to trigger the final out of the seventh and secure a 1-2-3 inning for the Bruins.
Sophomore reliever Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) struggled on the mound in the eighth, giving up a leadoff walk and then committing a throwing error that would hurt BU immensely. Once he gave up a full count free ride to a Blue Raider, he threw the ball over Hadden's reach and allowed the runner to advance to third. Middle Tennessee went on to plate the go-ahead run in the next at bat and added an insurance run on a single up the right side to make it 6-4. Klotz was tabbed with the loss making him 1-2 on the hill this season.
Belmont will host conference foe SIUE for a three-game series, March 31-April 2, at E.S. Rose Park. The first game is slated for a 4 p.m. start time on Friday, March 31.