OXFORD, Ala. – Senior designated hitter Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) went yard twice to plate Belmont baseball's first three runs, but the squad was unable to get past Jacksonville State dropping the series opener, 9-4, Friday night at Choccolocco Park.
Egli ignited BU's offense, becoming the sole Bruin to launch multiple home runs in a single outing this season. Not only did the veteran record a pair of homers, but he did so in consecutive plate appearances to score three of Belmont's four runs. Redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) collected the squads fourth run with a 3-for-4 performance on the day.
With two down and the game at a standstill, senior Egli took things into his own hands and sent one well beyond the left field wall for a solo shot that put Belmont (17-19, 11-8) ahead, 1-0, in the top half of the third.
After retiring the first seven batters he faced, starting hurler Tyler Vaughn (Jonesboro, Ill.) ran into some trouble in the home half of the third as Jacksonville State (19-16, 8-8) put up three runs with a long ball of its own. The Gamecocks collected their first base runners of the game with back-to-back base knocks before Joe McGuire would send one over the right field fence to take the lead, 3-1.
In his next plate appearance, Egli duplicated his previous at bat with another home run to left field in the fifth. The only difference was that this one plated multiple runs to tie the game up, 3-3. Junior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) got on via base on balls for Egli to rake in a couple more RBIs, accounting for all three Belmont runs thus far.
Jacksonville State once again retaliated in the bottom of the frame and doubled their lead on a three-run stanza that featured a couple of costly errors from the Bruins. Vaughn issued a pair of free bases to the Gamecocks, putting runners in scoring position with only one out. McGuire continued to give the Bruins trouble as he ripped a double to right field that registered two runs, but just one RBI as Cogen committed a throwing error that allowed the second to score. JSU plated its third run courtesy of another Bruin throwing error, this one from Conger, to claim a 6-3 advantage.
The Bruins cut into their deficit in the eighth on back-to-back doubles to start the frame. Junior Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) laced a standup double to deep centerfield in his first trip to the plate of the night and Cogen followed suit with a two-bagger of his own to the same place, bringing Kocher home while tallying his third hit against the Gamecocks. BU attempted to come within one as Cogen resided on third and took off for home on a deep fly ball delivered by sophomore Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.), but was thrown out to rob the Bruins of a run and end the inning prematurely.
McGuire contributed two more RBIs in the bottom of the eighth with a single, bringing his total to six and securing JSU's 9-3 victory in game one.
Vaughn was tabbed with the loss, tossing seven complete innings and striking out six while relinquishing four earned runs
The Bruins and Gamecocks will face off for game two on Friday, April 22 at Choccolocco Park. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.