NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University Baseball dropped a 9-6 decision to Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Illinois Friday night at E.S. Rose Park. The Bruins out-hit the Panthers 11-8 but two errors plagued Belmont defensively.
The game got off to a quick start with both pitchers retiring the side in order for a scoreless first inning, but the Panthers struck first in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a walk and ground-rule double for a 1-0 lead.
Belmont wasted little time tying things back up, scoring a run on two hits in the bottom of the second. Freshman Tommy Crider (Madison, Ala.) got things going in the inning with a one-out single up the middle, putting the tying run aboard. Junior Hagan Severance (Brentwood, Tenn.) then delivered a two-out triple to the right center field wall, plating Crider and tied things 1-1 after two complete.
Eastern Illinois retook the lead in the top of the third. A leadoff walk and a couple hits drove two runs across home plate for a 3-1 lead.
Both squads were relatively quiet until the bottom of the fifth when Belmont put together a two-out rally. Sophomore Jackson Campbell (Bowling Green, Ky.) sent a solo shot over the left field fence to cut the EIU lead 3-2. Senior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) followed the home run with a single and stole second to put the tying run in scoring position. Senior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) plated Ehrhart with an RBI single up the middle to tie the game 3-3 after five complete.
The Panthers responded yet again in the top of the sixth, taking a 4-3 lead.
Things heated up in the final three innings with eight runs scored between the two teams. EIU started off the late flurry by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh and scored three more runs in the top of the eighth, three of which were unearned, to take a commanding 9-3 lead.
The Bruins never gave up, continuing to hit the ball well, to put pressure on the Panthers. In the bottom of the eighth, Belmont, poised with two outs, rallied to put three runs on the board. Hadden was aboard early with a leadoff single but was in danger of being stranded after two quick outs. Crider, however, notched his second hit of the night with a single up the middle to put runners on first and second with junior Chandler Adkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) due up. Adkins swung on the third pitch of his at-bat, blasting a ball past the right field fence for a three-run home run. Adkins' first long ball of the season cut the EIU lead 9-6 heading into the final inning.
Junior Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) headed to the mound for the Bruins in the top of the ninth, trying to limit any further damage by the Panthers. He got the job done, holding EIU off the board in the top of the final inning.
Belmont needed three runs in the bottom of the ninth to keep the game going but was unable to plate any, ultimately falling 9-6.
Game two of the series is slated for 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 6 at E.S. Rose Park.