COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) swung for the fences and let one ride over the right-centerfield wall to hand Tennessee Tech its first home loss in conference play. His second long ball of the game secured a 9-8 victory for Belmont baseball in 11 innings Monday afternoon at Bush Stadium to salvage the series.
Five Bruins registered multi-hit outings, contributing to Belmont's 14-hit performance that allowed them to avoid the sweep. Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) and Cogen led the charge with three hits apiece, including contributing clutch hitting efforts in the final frames. Cogen used a career-best two home runs, including his game-winning solo shot in the 11th to help BU (23-23, 15-12) hold off the Golden Eagles (34-15, 20-4).
Having trailed all series long, Belmont managed to take its first lead right out of the gates in game three, going up 3-0 in the squad's first turn at the plate. Bournigal got things started with a standup double down the left line, quickly putting the Bruins in scoring position. He'd go on to cross home plate on a wild pitch. With a runner on second and no one out, senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) blasted a two-run homer over the left field wall to increase BU's advantage.
The Golden Eagles got a run back in the home half of the inning with the help of a Bruin throwing error that allowed Ryan Flick to drive in the run on a base shot to centerfield, bringing them within two, 3-1. Flick once again cut into Tennessee Tech's deficit in the third with his second RBI single of the day, making it a 3-2 game.
Belmont continued to heat up at the plate in the fourth, using a four-run frame to extend its lead 7-2. Junior Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) collect his first extra base hit of the season with a double, allowing sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) to bring him home with a groundout to first. Egli then recorded his third RBI of the day with a base shot to left field before redshirt-freshman Cogen blasted the team's second two-run bomb with two outs to cap off the scoring frenzy.
Flick continued to have an answer for Etheridge, driving in two more of the Golden Eagles runs with another base knock. He accounted for all four of TTU's runs through the first five stanzas, keeping them within striking distance, 7-4. Sophomore reliever Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) came in to replace Etheridge, making his league-leading 34th appearance on the mound this season. The righty induced a double play to end the frame and kept Tech scoreless for the next two and 2/3 innings.
Tennessee Tech finally found a way to quiet the Bruins offense, holding them hitless for three consecutive frames until Bournigal attempted to get BU rolling again in the top of the eighth. The Mulberry, Fla. product laced a two-bagger to deep right-centerfield with two-outs but was stranded as the Golden Eagles triggered the final out keeping it a 7-4 contest.
Senior closer Dom Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) came in for the eighth, looking for his ninth save of the year but came up short as TTU's offense woke up and scored a trio of runs on three hits to tie it up, 7-7.
The Bruins found themselves with runners residing on second and third in the top of the ninth, but were unable to convert them into runs. Cogen delivered a single through the right side for the first hit and Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) followed up with a double that put BU in scoring position with just one away. Tennessee Tech closer Ethan Roberts halted Belmont's hope of scoring by getting the next pair of batters he faced to go down swinging and ultimately forcing extra innings.
Senior Tyler Walsh (Evansville, Ind.) started the 10th stanza at the plate and reached on a TTU error that would prove to cost them the run as Bournigal sent his third double to deep left-centerfield. Walsh showed off his speed and made his way home from first base to score and temporarily give Belmont the lead, 9-8.
Tennessee Tech used some magic of its own to once again knot the game up, 8-8, and force the 11th inning. The squad scored the tying run on a pair of singles, the first coming from Collin Harris who'd go on to score the tying run on a base hit from Alex Junior.
In the end, Belmont came out on top courtesy of Cogen's go-ahead homer to put the team up, 9-8. Sophomore Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) collected his first save of the season, coming in for the final frame and tossing a 1-2-3 inning.
Belmont heads to Knoxville, Tenn. to take on Tennessee on Tuesday, May 9. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.