JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Belmont baseball team (18-10, 6-2) clinched the weekend series with a 6-4 victory over Jacksonville (11-17, 1-4) over the span of two days. The Bruins led the Dolphins 2-1 after Saturday's action, and outscored Jacksonville 4-3 Sunday afternoon to win Game Two.
The second game of the series between the Bruins and the Dolphins was delayed two hours and 16 minutes before the first pitch was even thrown on Saturday. The two teams then played for an hour and 10 minutes before the game was suspended to Sunday due to rain in the top of the fifth inning.
The Bruins were knocking on the door early Saturday with three straight second inning singles by junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.), freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.), and junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.). Unfortunately for BU, three infield outs later, Jacksonville escaped unscathed.
The Dolphins then scored their first run of the series, stringing together a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt to score one in the bottom of the third inning. Junior center fielder Dan Gulbransen drove in junior Ethan Loosen, who singled to lead off the frame.
Belmont fought back, though, tallying two runs in the top of the fifth before play was finally suspended due to inclement weather. This time it was sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) who started the rally, singling to right field.
After senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch, senior Dylan Craig's (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) fielder's choice tied the game, and sophomore Greg Brody's (Dacula, Ga.) RBI single gave Belmont the 2-1 lead.
Junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.) came to the plate, worked a one and two count, which was when all of the players were called off of the field due to lightning detected in the area. Soon thereafter the rain began to fall, and fall hard, which ended all hopes of finishing the contest on Saturday.
Senior captain Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) was having a nice day on the mound before play was suspended, allowing only one run on five hits while striking out four Dolphins and walking none.
Belmont then had just less than 20 hours to prepare for the rest of the second game of the series. The Bruins weren't able to put any more runs on the board in the fifth, but after junior Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.) retired the side in order in the bottom half of the frame, BU added a run in the sixth to increase the lead to 3-1.
Dodd reached first on an error by Jacksonville third baseman Taylor Ratliff. The Belmont left fielder then came around to score on a double to deep right center field.
The momentum moved in Jacksonville's direction when Gulbransen hit a solo shot that hooked around the foul pole in right field. A pair of singles and an error later, and the Dolphins took the lead over Belmont by a mark of 4-3.
The Bruins immediately countered, though, tallying three runs of their own in the top of the seventh to take a 6-4 lead that would prove to be the final score. A hit by pitch for Brody, and singles by Akers and Beaty, scored the first two runs for BU. Freshman Jamie Ritchie (Buford, Ga.) then gave Belmont an insurance run with an RBI single up the middle.
Davis recorded three of his four strikeouts in the game during the seventh and one third of the eighth, before handing the ball over to freshman Austin Coley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). Coley got the next two batters to ground out to take Belmont to the ninth.
Senior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) came in to close the game out for the Bruins. The right-hander retired the Dolphins in order to give Belmont the 6-4 victory and record his conference-leading eighth save of the season.
Belmont finished with six runs on 11 hits and one error. Davis improved to 5-1 on the season, allowing only one earned run on four hits. He struck out four batters and walked none in three and one third innings pitched. Akers, Beaty, and Turner each tallied two hits in the victory.
Jacksonville totaled four runs on nine hits and four errors. Wes Torrez fell to 0-1 on the season after allowing four runs on three hits in one inning of relief. Gulbransen led the Dolphins at the plate, going three-for-four with a double, a home run, and two RBI.
Belmont will attempt to sweep Jacksonville immediately following game two on Sunday.