KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In a game of ebbs and flows all evening, Belmont baseball couldn't find a way to overcome a pesky Tennessee squad Tuesday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Bruins mounted a valiant comeback, but ultimately dropped a 14-8 decision to the Vols.
Trailing by six early on, BU (23-24) plated seven unanswered runs to take the lead over UT (25-19) for a stanza. The Bruins offense was highlighted by a pair of three-hit outings from the veteran duo of Cully Day (Mahomet, Ill.) and Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.).
Junior right-hander Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) earned his first starting nod on the bump in a Bruin uniform, getting the leadoff batter to go down swinging in his debut. He'd go on to retire the next Vol as well, but before finishing off the opening frame Reynolds relinquished a solo shot over the left field wall in the next at bat to allow Tennessee to take an early 1-0 lead. UT got another long ball off the righty in the second, this one coming in the form of two runs from Max Bartlett - increasing their lead to three runs.
The Bruins were very effective at the start of the first three innings, retiring the first two Vols to take the plate each time but struggled to seal the deal. For the third consecutive inning Tennessee found a way to score with two outs as rookie hurler Tyler Alderfer (Perkasie, Pa.) came in for relief and gave up a couple of runs on three hits and a walk to extend UT's advantage to 5-0.
Belmont's offense woke up in the fifth, producing six hits and five runs to make it a one-run game after trailing 6-0. Day started things off with a standup double for his second hit of the day. From then BU loaded the bases on a single and base on balls before Tennessee could ever retire a Bruin. The squad took full advantage of the situation, scoring four consecutive runs courtesy of redshirt-junior Rafael Bournigal (Mulberry, Fla.), sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) and senior Nick Egli (Brentwood, Tenn.). Junior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) capped off the scoring frenzy with a RBI single to left field to only put the Bruins down one, 6-5.
Another bases loaded situation allowed BU to capitalize on a couple of Tennessee miscues and take the lead, 7-6. Senior Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) led off the top of the sixth by lacing a single to left field and back-to-back walks put Bruins on every bag. A wild pitch and throwing error scored two Belmont runs, making it seven unanswered and ultimately putting the Bruins ahead for the first time.
Belmont's lead was erased in the home half of the inning as Tennessee crossed six runs of their own on a trio of hits and four free rides to go up, 12-7. BU was able to scratch one more across, but the Vols also continued to tack on the runs to come away victorious, 14-8.
The Bruins endure their fifth game in a five-day span, hosting Alabama A&M on Wednesday, May 10. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park.