CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball fired on all cylinders early, using a five-run second stanza to push past Austin Peay, 9-5, in the opening game of the series Friday night at Raymond C. Hand Park. BU used an even killed hitting effort with eight different Bruins recording at least one hit in their ninth conference victory this season.
In addition to heating up at the plate, Belmont (14-14, 9-4) enjoyed a stellar performance from starting hurler, Tyler Vaughn (Jonesboro, Ill.), on the hill. He tossed 6.2 frames only allowing three runs while striking out nine Governors.
Belmont's bats exploded in the second frame, accounting for five runs to put the Bruins up, 5-0, early on. The hitting frenzy started with senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.), who blasted a standup double to left field and put BU in scoring position right off the bat. From then on, five Bruins collected a RBI single, highlighted by a two-run shot from sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.). It was Hadden's second hit of the night as he also delivered single in his first at bat in the opening inning.
While BU's offense was lighting up, Vaughn shut down the Governors (13-16, 5-8) through the first 4.2 stanzas. The righty struck out six and only allowed a pair of hits – keeping Austin Peay scoreless in that span.
Redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) added to Belmont's advantage in the fourth after capitalizing on a free ride dealt to junior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.). Cogen made it 6-0 with a base shot up the middle that allowed Conger to make his way home.
BU continued to dominate at the plate as senior Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) became the eighth Bruin to register a hit, launching a two-run double to deep left field. The veteran's fifth extra-base hit of the year increased the squad's lead to 8-0 after five.
After holding the Govs to just two hits in 4.2 innings of work, Vaughn gave up a pair of doubles that allowed Austin Peay to plate two runs and bring them within six, 8-2. APSU's Garrett Giovannelli tallied the first RBI and claimed the Governors first three hits against Vaughn until Imani Willis drilled a two-bagger of his own. The righty settled back in on the hill and got his seventh batter to strike out and end the frame.
He then up three free rides to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh, to end his day as Head Coach Dave Jarvis dipped into the bullpen and pulled sophomore Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) out to take the rubber. Kotz, who inherited runners on all three bases, gave up a RBI walk to bring in Austin Peay's third run cutting into Belmont's lead, 8-3.
With the help of a pair of walks and a single driven by Egli, the Bruins loaded the bases with just one away. Senior Tyler Walsh (Evansville, Ind.) got on by the way of a fielder's choice that allowed another Bruin to score and put BU up, 9-3, and claim game one of the series against Austin Peay.
Austin Peay registered three singles in the home half of the ninth, contributing to a pair of runs and bringing the Governors within four, 9-5, but that's as close as they'd get.
Belmont takes on Austin Peay for the second game of the series on Saturday, April 8. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. at Raymond C. Hand Park.