NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University Baseball picked up a series victory on Sunday over preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite Morehead state after splitting a pair of games in a Sunday doubleheader. The Bruins won the first game 2-0 before falling 4-3 in game two.
Game one proved to be a defensive battle with a spectacular performance on the mound from freshman pitcher Joshua South (Cookeville, Tenn.). Despite a leadoff hit by the Eagles, South took command of the game early, limiting Morehead State's offensive chances throughout the game.
After two scoreless innings, Belmont scored what would be the only two runs of the game in the bottom of the third. Leadoff man junior Hagan Severance (Brentwood, Tenn.) and freshman John Behrends (Chattanooga, Tenn.) worked consecutive walks, putting the Eagles in a jam. Junior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) drove in the first run with a single to center field and freshman Grayson Taylor (Cullman, Ala.) put a ground ball in play to drive in the second run, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
The top of the fourth saw Morehead State's biggest threat of the game, being the only inning the Eagles strung together more than one hit in an inning. South got out of the jam forcing a double play ball to get out of the inning.
The score would hold 2-0 to the top of the ninth when South returned to the mound to attempt to complete the shutout. South, remaining in command, saw only four batters in the top of the ninth and struck out the final two to preserve the victory.
Gardner was a bright spot offensively for the Bruins, going three-for-three at the plate with an RBI.
South retired the Eagles in order four innings and walked none. He completed the shutout extremely efficiently, throwing under 100 pitches on the day.
While game two saw impressive defensive plays from both sides, the game was much more offensively driven than game one of the doubleheader.
Morehead State took its first lead of the series in the top of the second after a leadoff double scored after a fly ball and base hit, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
While the Bruins looked to find a spark offensively, Morehead State took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth after an extra-base hit and Belmont error allowed two more runs to score.
Sophomore Jackson Campbell (Russellville, Ky.) proved to be the offensive spark the Bruins were looking for in the bottom of the fifth. After a Taylor leadoff base knock, freshman Tommy
Crider (Madison, Ala.) delivered the second hit of the inning, putting runners on first and second. Reigning OVC Player of the Week, Jackson Campbell, stepped to the plate and swung on the first pitch of his at-bat crushing a ball past the left field fence to tie the game 3-3.
With just two more innings to play in the scheduled seven-inning contest, both teams were looking for the winning run. The Eagles found that run in the top of the seventh after a leadoff base hit put the go-ahead run aboard. A sacrifice bunt and a ground ball pushed what would be the winning run across the plate, giving MSU a 4-3 lead.
Belmont tried to counter in the bottom of the inning after consecutive walks by Crider and Campbell put the Bruins in good position with no outs. Severance then laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to push to tying and go-ahead run to scoring position, but the Bruins were unable to find the timely hit and fell 4-3 in game two of the doubleheader
Belmont will be back in action on Tuesday, March 12th at E.S. Rose Park for the Battle of the Boulevard when it welcomes Lipscomb. First pitch is slated for 4:00 p.m. CT.