CAPE GIRARDEU, Mo. – Belmont Baseball fought hard for a 10-6 victory Sunday after a marathon, extra inning slugfest with Southeast Missouri State.
The Bruins took the lead for the third time in the series in the top of the second inning. After two quick outs, senior Ben Kocher (Zionsville, Ind.) sent a base hit to left field to get things started for the Bruins. Junior Hunter Holland (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) then worked a walk to put Kocher in scoring position. Freshman Jordan Henshaw (New Market, Ala.) then scored the first run of the night with RBI single through the right side to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
The Redhawks threatened to even things out in the bottom of the second, putting two runners in scoring position with just one out. Junior Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) found the zone, striking out the next two batters to keep SEMO scoreless.
Despite two base runners in the top of the third, the Bruins were unable to score in the third, but Queener retired the Redhawks in order in the bottom of the inning to preserve the Bruins' lead.
Belmont scored their second run of the night in the top of the fourth after Kocher lead off with a single. The next two batters worked walks to load the bases with no outs. Senior Kyle Conger (Brentwood, Tenn.) recorded his first RBI of the afternoon with a sacrifice fly to plate Kocher giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead before SEMO turned a double play to end the inning.
SEMO put together a real threat in the bottom of the fifth. After a leadoff triple, walk, and a base hit, they loaded the bases with just one out. Queener once again dug in and forced a pop up and fly out to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Bruins blew things open in the top of the sixth. With one out, Kocher recorded his third hit in as many at-bats with a ground rule double to center field. Holland and pinch hitter sophomore Michael Matter (Ft. Myers, Fla.) worked walks to load the bases. Kyle Conger was a hero once again, smoking a grand slam over the left center field wall to empty the bases and give the Bruins a 6-0 lead.
After two and a half scoreless innings, SEMO ended the Bruins' hopes of a shutout with a one-out solo shot over the right field fence to cut the lead 6-1, but the damage was limited to one run after two fly outs ended the inning.
SEMO tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth, stringing together two leadoff singles that had Belmont call to the bullpen to bring in freshman Kyle Brennan (Franklin, Tenn.). A one-out ground rule double scored the two base runners to tighten things up 6-3. Brennan forced the second out of the inning with a fly out to center field and the Bruins were one out away from the victory. SEMO wasn't done though, and strung together a two out double and single to tie things 6-6 with the winning run on third. Brennan dug deep and struck out the side to send the game into extra innings.
After three scoreless innings, the Bruins dug deep in the top of the tenth and got some offense going. With one out, sophomore Michael Matter (Ft. Myers, Fla.) put together a beautiful at-bat, fouling off multiple pitches, taking the count full, and eventually hitting a chopper to the infield and beat out the throw at first to put the go-ahead run aboard. With two outs, the Bruins made a run when junior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) worked a walk, pushing the go-ahead run to scoring position. Junior Matt Cogen (Franklin, Tenn.) scored the go-ahead run with a single down the left line giving the Bruins a 7-6 lead.
Junior Zach Ehrhart (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) and senior Austin Reynolds (Smyrna, Tenn.) kept the Bruins alive, delivering back-to-back RBI to give Belmont a 10-6 lead. With another run in scoring position, SEMO finally delivered the third out, ending the two-out rally and the Bruins took a four run lead into the bottom of the ninth.
The Redhawks leadoff the bottom of the tenth with a double, but Brennan forced a ground out and two fly outs to clinch the 10-6 victory for the Bruins.