NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University baseball hosted Illinois State on a soggy and cold Friday afternoon. The game had a little bit of everything in its 11 innings that spanned over five hours. After a battle t0 the 11thinning, Belmont ultimately dropped a 27-11 decision to the Redbirds.
Starting pitcher Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) took the mound for the first time this season and would throw four innings. The Redbirds got off to a quick start with a leadoff single up the middle to give them an immediate base runner. A hit batsman and another base hit allowed two runs to cross the plate, giving the Redbirds a 2-0 lead. Queener was able to limit the damage, notching three strikeouts in the inning.
The score remained the same with three-consecutive three up, three down innings. Illinois State cracked the scoreboard once again in the top of the fifth after three base hits and a sacrifice bunt sent the third run across the plate.
Belmont finally got things going and cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning. Junior Chandler Adkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a leadoff walk to start the inning. Sophomore Jackson Campbell (Russellville, Ky.) followed that up with a double to right center field. Freshman Jack Capobianco (London, Ky.) sent the first run across the plate with an RBI groundout. Senior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Ky.) recorded the second RBI of the inning when he laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Campbell across home plate. Belmont cut the lead in half with a score of 4-2 after six complete frames.
Sophomore Korey Bell (Brentwood, Tenn.) made his debut in a Belmont uniform when he took the mound for the top of the seventh. He pitched a quick inning, forcing two groundouts and a fly ball to center field.
Belmont blew the game open in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman Tommy Crider (Madison, Ala.) started the inning with a double to center field. The next four batters were walked, giving Belmont a 5-3 lead. An Ehrhart single and two hit batsmen kept the momentum going tacking on two more runs. Illinois State was finally able to get the first two outs of the inning on the next two batters but walked three more before tallying the third out. After 14 at-bats in the bottom of the seventh inning alone, Belmont took a 10-3 lead.
Illinois State answered Belmont's big inning with one of its own. Eleven Redbirds went to the plate in the top of the eighth, scoring seven runs on just two hits to tie the game 10-10. ISU took the lead again in the top of the ninth, forcing the Bruins to score another run of their own in the bottom of the inning to keep the game alive.
Senior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) got things going in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff double. Freshman John Behrends (Chattanooga, Tenn.) kept the momentum by working a walk to put runners on first and second. Adkins put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Holland was called out at home plate on the next play but Behrends found himself 90 feet from tying the game with two outs. Behrends scored the tying run on a wild pitch to keep the game alive, sending the game into extra innings at a score of 11-11.
Neither team was able to cross home plate in the tenth inning sending the game into what would be a decisive 11thinning. Belmont struggled in the top of the 11thas it was deep into its bullpen and nearly five hours into the game. Illinois State scored sixteen runs in the final inning on six hits and three Belmont errors to take a 27-11 lead. Belmont was unable to answer in the bottom of the eleventh, dropping its opening game of the 2019 season.
The teams will meet again Saturday, Feb. 16that 1:00 for game two of the series.