NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont baseball was only able to muster a run against a scrappy Southeast Missouri squad that made clutch defensive plays to keep the Bruins offense from heating up as they dropped game one, 4-1, to the Redhawks Friday evening at E.S. Rose Park.
BU (24-25, 15-13) found itself in scoring position on a couple of occasions, but had a tough time getting past SEMO's (25-22, 13-12) stout defense all evening. Senior Clay Payne (Powell, Tenn.) was the sole Bruin to drive a run in the series opener as the Redhawks starting hurler, Justin Murphy, closed out the game retiring 11 of the final 13 Bruins he faced.
With runners having advanced to second and third on a timely Redhawk throwing error and two away, senior Tyler Walsh (Evansville, Ind.) stepped to the plate looking to bring home a couple of Bruins. He let one soar to deep centerfield, but was victim to an acrobatic snag from SEMO's outfielder Dan Host that ended the frame and kept BU scoreless after two. Holst then went on to put Southeast Missouri on the board first in the top of the next frame with a two-run home run to right field. The Redhawks tacked on two more runs with a four-hit fourth inning to take an early 4-0 lead while the Bruins had only collected a hit.
Junior Cully Day (Mohamet, Ill.) was the lone Bruin to connect on a pitch in the first three stanzas – firing a bullet towards first base for an infield hit that gave Belmont multiple base runners. Both would go on to be stranded, forcing Belmont to remain without a run.
It wasn't until the fifth that Belmont finally found a way to make it home, doing so on back-to-back two-baggers from the senior duo of Walsh and Payne. The squad had only collected a pair of hits in the first four stanzas before the veterans woke up the Bruins bats and tried to get something going with a couple of extra base hits to bring them within three, 4-1. Walsh ripped one to the left field corner to set Payne up to register his 12th RBI of the season.
From then on Murphy would sit down the next 11 batters he faced until Kyle Conger (Franklin, Tenn.) finally cracked the righty's spell with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, delivering a base shot up the middle in attempt to get a rally going for the Bruins. Freshman Logan Jarvis (Franklin, Tenn.) came in to pinch hit behind him, swung at the first pitch he saw and laced a single to left field to keep Belmont alive. However, the squad would come up short as sophomore Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) popped up to shortstop, stranding both base runners and ending the game.
Belmont and SEMO face off for game two on Saturday, May 13 at E.S. Rose Park. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.