Bruins Sweep Jacksonville, Win 4-3 In Series Finale

James Buckelew
James Buckelew

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Belmont baseball team (19-10, 7-2) completed the sweep of Jacksonville (11-18, 1-5) with a weird and wild 4-3 victory in seven innings on Sunday.  It marked the first time Belmont swept the Dolphins in a regular season series since 2003, and the first time any Atlantic Sun Conference team swept Jacksonville since 2008.

This one began as a pitchers' duel between Belmont's James Buckelew (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Jacksonville's Chris Anderson.  Both starters recorded three shutout innings to start the game, before a strange fourth inning put the Bruins on top 2-1.

The top of the fourth began as Anderson walked sophomore Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.).  After a sacrifice bunt by junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.), Brody advanced to third on a passed ball, before freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.) walked to put two men on first and third.

Beaty then stole second on an attempted double steal.  The Belmont first baseman advanced to third and Brody scored the first run of the game on a balk by Anderson.  It did not get any more normal after that, as Breen struck out but reached first on a Jacksonville passed ball, and Beaty scored on the play.

Uncharacteristically, the Belmont defense committed two errors in the bottom half of the fourth, allowing Jacksonville to get within one at, 2-1.  Dan Gulbransen reached first on a throwing error by senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.), and Taylor Ratliff reached on a high throw to first by junior Jared Breen (Marietta, Ga.), which scored Gulbransen.

Buckelew, who allowed only one unearned run on a single hit in four innings on his way to the win, was relieved by freshman Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) for the fifth.  After another Belmont error to open the frame, Moses retired the next three batters in order.

Belmont added two runs in the top of the sixth to take a 4-1 advantage over the Dolphins.  Beaty led off the rally with a deep double off the wall in right center field.  He then got caught in a rundown between second and third on a fielder's choice by junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.).  Turner made a head's up base running play, advancing to second while Beaty kept the Jacksonville defense busy.

Anderson then walked Breen, and Beaty came around to score when freshman Jamie Ritchie reached on an error by the Jacksonville catcher.  Breen ended up scoring the final Belmont run of the inning and the game on a wild pitch by Anderson.

Jacksonville made a final run at the Bruins when Gulbransen singled to lead off the bottom half of the sixth.  Adam Brett Walker, the 2011 A-Sun Player of the Year, hit a shot to center field that no Belmont player was going to get to.  His two run homer pulled the Dolphins within one again, this time at 4-3 with only one inning to play.

After an empty seventh for the Bruins, senior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) was called upon to close the game out for the second time of the day.  After allowing a leadoff double to a pinch hitter, Fanchier worked his way out of the jam, and gave BU the 4-3 victory and the sweep of Jacksonville.

Belmont finished with four runs on four hits and three errors.  Buckelew improved to a perfect 4-0 on the season, while Fanchier picked up his ninth save of the season.  Mitchell led the Bruins at the plate with a two-for-three day.

Jacksonville totaled three runs on four hits and two errors.  Anderson dropped to 3-2 on the season after allowing four unearned runs on four hits.  He struck out six and walked six in the seven-inning complete game.  Four different Dolphins recorded hit, but it was Walker's homer that kept JU in the game.

Belmont will next play at Austin Peay in a non-conference contest on Tuesday, before hosting USC Upstate in A-Sun action next weekend.