NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball ties a bow on the 2017 campaign with a three-game nonconference series against Furman May 18-20. The opening game will take place on Thursday, May 18 at 5 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park. This will be the first meeting between the two squads since 2000 and the first time that the Bruins will host the Paladins on their home turf - they have split the all-time series, 2-2. The Bruins boast an overall record of 27-25 and have accumulated a 10-12 mark against opponents outside of the OVC throughout the season.
Offensively, Belmont has been led primarily by three bruins - Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.), Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) and Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.). While Egli leads the squad in nearly every statistical category, both Borunigal and Cogen have been heating up at the plate as of late. Cogen has registered multiple hits in six of BU's last seven contests while Bournigal connected on 11 hits last week. Egli boasts a batting average of .364, while Bournigal (.339) and Cogen (.332) follow close behind. Belmont sits atop the league with 70 stolen bases as senior Tyler Walsh leads the charge, having robbed 19 bases in his 23 attempts. Collectively, the team has registered 487 hits, 315 runs and 283 RBIs.
On the mound, Belmont's pitching staff has disrupted their opponents all season long. Dylan King (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) leads the team with an ERA of 3.71 (ranking second in OVC) while Tyler Vaughn (Jonesboro, Ill.) sits second the conference having logged 83.2 innings in his junior campaign. The Bruins have also seen extensive production from their bullpen with 12 different pitchers taking the hill for Belmont. Sophomore Kyle Klotz (Fairview, Tenn.) leads the OVC with 40 appearances, tossing 54.0 innings and earning a record of 3-3 on the mound. Senior closer Dom Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) has earned eight of Belmont's 11 saves this season - ranking second in the league.
Redshirt-freshman Matt Cogen has found a way to register multiple hits all season long, having connected on at least two hits in six of the Bruins last seven games. He has registered 22 multi-hit outings in his rookie campaign and boasts a .332 batting average. He leads the squad with 67 hits on the season.
Right-handed pitcher Tyler Vaughn has earned the Friday start for the Bruins in every one of the squad's weekend series. In his 13 appearances, the hurler has struck out 85 batters in 83.2 innings of work. The righty tossed a complete game in the series opener against Eastern Illinois (4.13) where he only allowed one run in the ninth frame. It was just his second complete game of his career. The Jonesboro, Ill. product tossed a career-best 11 Ks against Morehead State (3.17). He holds an ERA of 5.38 so far in his junior campaign.
NO PAYNE NO GAIN
Senior catcher Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) is the driving force of Belmont's defense - starting behind the plate in all but seven games this season. He's tallied 362 putouts ranking fourth in the conference. The veteran has also caught 17 runners attempting to steal, the second most in the OVC. Payne was recently named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list that recognizes elite catchers throughout the nation.
HOLLAND GETTING HOT
Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) has been heating up at the plate during the second half of the season, launching eight home runs including a grand slam at Lipscomb (4.25) and going yard in consecutive at bats against SEMO (5.14). The sophomore finished the season leading the team in batting average in conference play (.385), largely contributed by a career-best 5-for-5 day in the OVC finale versus the Redhawks.
LOTZ OF KLOTZ
Sophomore Kyle Klotz has been the go-to hurler in the Bruins bullpen all season long, making 40 appearances on the mound while compiling 54.0 innings of work. The right-handed reliever has tallied an ERA of 4.17 on the year, striking out 38 batters. In his conference leading 40 appearances Klotz boasts a 3-3 record on the hill for Belmont. He also currently sits second in BU's all-time record book in single season appearances, behind Jesse Snodgrass' 44 appearances in 2013.
BRING ON BOURNIGAL
Belmont has enjoyed consistency at the plate from junior Rafael Bournigal in recent contests. The second baseman has taken over in the leadoff spot in the lineup in the last 20 games. He sits second on the team, batting .339 while registering 59 hits and 32 runs this season. He recently went 3-for-3 at the plate at Evansville (5.16).
THE ROYAL TREATMENT
Sophomore hurlers Dylan King and Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) have proven to be effective on the mound all season. Both righties have logged 11 strike out performances this year, collectively fanning 150 batters over the course of the 2017 campaign.