NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball's bats came alive in the series finale as the Bruins sped past the Racers, 14-4, Sunday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park. Three different Bruins recorded multi-hit outings – contributing to the squads 13 hit outing.
The Bruins were led by offensive contributions from the junior duo of Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) and Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.). Kocher collected a career-best performance seven RBIs on three hits – all of them plating multiple runs, while Conger also shined at the plate going 3-for-4 and registering a pair of runs.
After struggling to get on the board in the first two games of the series the Bruins turned a new page in the finale, plating three runs in the opening frame. Junior Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) gave Belmont its first advantage of the series with a leadoff long ball over the left centerfield wall – the sole home run he's launched this season. BU went on to load the bases on a couple of hits and a free ride for Kocher to enter the batter's box. The junior slipped a base shot through the left side to bring in a pair of runs and increase the squad's lead, 3-0, in the first inning.
Belmont distanced itself in the second frame with a five-run stanza that saw the Bruins load the bases on three different occasions. They tallied their slew of runs with two outs, highlighted by a three RBI double from Kocher. The Zionsville, Indiana product accounted for five runs in his first two at bats to contribute to their 8-0 advantage.
Finding themselves in a hole early, the Racers managed to get a run off starting hurler Connor Etheridge (Springfield, Ill.) on a leadoff homer from Aaron Bence in the third. That's all they'd get off the righty as he minimalized the damage before BU tacked on three insurance runs in the fourth. It all started with a leadoff walk dealt to senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) for redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) to drive him in on a deep double to centerfield. Belmont would go on to plate a couple more on a Racer error and groundout to go up 11-1.
Murray State got a run back in the sixth with its second leadoff home run – this one launched by Davis Sims to bring the Racers within nine, 11-2. Junior Cully Day (Mohamet, Ill.) once again made it a ten-run contest in favor of the Bruins with a two-out double to left-centerfield to make it 12-2.
The Racers showed grit as they pieced together a four-hit seventh stanza that allowed them to score a couple of runs and cut into their deficit, 12-4, before sophomore reliever Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) would end the frame. Queener replaced Etheridge in the middle of the six and produced valuable time on the hill, striking out four batters in his 1.2 innings of work.
Kocher tallied his final two RBIs in the home half of the seventh, bringing his total to seven on the day. The third baseman ripped a two-bagger to the right-centerfield fence – scoring a couple more runs to lead, 14-4.
The game was called short due to threatening storms the remainder of the afternoon, finalizing Belmont's 14-4 victory in the top of the eighth frame.
The Bruins return to action on Wednesday, May 3 to host Evansville at E.S. Rose Park. The midweek matchup is slated to start at 5 p.m.