NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont Baseball dropped a 6-2 decision to Eastern Illinois in game two of a three-game series Saturday morning.
Eastern Illinois cracked the scoreboard first, putting together an eight-batter inning, drawing three walks and recording two hits to score two runs.
After only one hit through three innings, the Bruins finally strung together some offense in the top of the fourth. After senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) worked a leadoff walk, senior Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) blasted his second hit of the night to right field. With runners on first and second with no outs, sophomore Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) came up with a clutch double that sent the first run across the plate. Senior Ben Kocher then tied things up with a sacrifice fly that would tie things up at 2-2.
The Bruins were able to keep the Panthers off the board in the bottom of the fourth and seemed to be riding momentum into the fifth inning. Junior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) led-off the fifth inning with a single to center field and advanced to second with the help of a Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) sacrifice bunt, but he was stranded in scoring position as the next two batters were retired.
Eastern Illinois responded in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double. Two batters later, the Panthers drove in the third run with an RBI single to retake the lead 3-2.
Despite a leadoff single by Cogen in the top of the sixth and a leadoff triple by Gardner in the top of the seventh, the Bruins were unable to plate anymore runs for the remainder of the game.
Eastern Illinois sealed the game in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three unearned runs with the help of a Belmont error to secure the 6-2 victory.
The Bruins had many chances, recording eight hits on the day, but stranded seven on base.
The Panthers recorded 12 hits and left 13 on base.
Matt Cogen had an impressive day, going four-for-four from the plate, recording three singles and a double, accounting for half of the Bruins' eight hits.
Five Bruins saw time on the mound, but senior Connor Etheridge (Springfield, Ill.) earned the decision.
The Bruins and the Panthers will meet for the Series finale Sunday, April 15th. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m.