NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A career day at the plate from junior Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.) helped Belmont baseball to a 9-3 victory as the Bruins swept the series against Southern Illinois Tuesday night at Itchy Jones Stadium.
Bournigal went four-for-four at the plate, registering a hit in every one of his at bats – the most hits he's recorded in an outing during his three-year career with the Bruins. Before today, the second baseman had only ever tallied three hits in a game. He was joined by senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.) who also put together a perfect day in the batter's box, recording a hit along with being issued a trio of walks. Egli added three of the squad's seven RBIs to his line as well.
Belmont's bats caught fire in the opening frame with the first seven Bruins that took the plate either registering a hit or RBI to put them ahead, 5-0, right away. Bournigal initiated the hitting frenzy with a leadoff two-bagger that painted the right line before a trio of singles and two sacrifice flies would plate three runs. With a runner on and two away sophomore Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) gave a pitch a ride over the left field fence for a two-run long ball that allowed BU to score its most runs in the first inning this season.
As the Bruins dominated at the plate, sophomore starting hurler Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) kept the Salukis bats at bay – only giving up one hit in the first three frames. The righty struck out four batters and retired seven of the first nine batters he faced before ever allowing multiple runners to get on base. Meanwhile, BU continued to explode at the plate, registering at least one hit in every inning through four stanzas.
Bournigal connected on his third hit in as many plate appearances to spark a two-out rally in the fourth with a base shot up the middle. Belmont proceeded to deliver two more singles and tack on a pair of runs to increase its advantage, 7-0. Egli cashed in on both RBIs with a base shot to left field and capped off the Bruins rally.
In his fourth trip to the plate, Bournigal ripped his career-best fourth hit into left field to remain perfect when batting. The Mulberry, Florida native compiled a pair of doubles as well as two singles through six stanzas, an extensive contributor to the Bruins 12 hits during that span. Senior Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) would make it home on a wild pitch in the frame to increase their lead, 8-0.
The shutout bid was broken up in the home half of the sixth as the Salukis plated three runs via a wild pitch and a two-run dinger. A leadoff hit-by-pitch issued by freshman reliever Justin Fowlkes (Collierville, Tenn.) would go on to score Southern Illinois' first run of the day as the Saluki made it to third base. Greg Lambert then launched a double to the wall in right-centerfield to set Logan Blackfan up to send a two-run homer to right field to bring SIU within five, 8-3.
Three free rides dealt to the Bruins in the eighth allowed them to load the bases before a couple of rookies would team up to score BU's ninth run. Freshman Jackson Curb (Franklin, Tenn.) came into pinch run for Payne and made his way to third courtesy of two more walks. With runners residing on all three bases and only one out credited to BU, freshman Logan Jarvis (Franklin, Tenn.) sent one high and deep into left field to bring in Curb and register his first RBI as a Bruin via a sacrifice fly.
Belmont heads to Oxford, Alabama for a conference matchup with Jacksonville State, April 21-23. The first game of the three-game series is slated to start at 6 p.m. at Choccolocco Park.