Photos: Emily Proud
A solo home run in the eighth inning from senior Matt Beaty lifted the Belmont baseball team to a 3-2 win over defending national champion Vanderbilt at Hawkins Field Tuesday night.
“Once I hit it, I wasn’t necessarily sure whether it was going out or not. I knew it was a tall wall over there. Out of the box, I was thinking two,” said Beaty. “Luckily, I heard my guys cheering and screaming when it went out.”
The No. 5 Commodores were the highest ranked opponent any Belmont team has beaten since the university went Division I in 1996-97.
“They’re such a good ball club and extremely well coached. Coach Corbin and his staff do a tremendous job in preparation for games like this,” said Belmont coach Dave Jarvis. “It’s a good win for our program. It’s something hopefully that helps our players realize what we’re capable of accomplishing.”
The Bruins’ offense, which averaged 8.9 runs per game prior to the game, collected eight hits against seven different Commodores pitchers faced on the night.
Senior Patrick McGrath earned the win on the mound and tossed six strikeouts in seven innings pitched. Matthew Kinney picked up his second save of the season as the junior struck out four in the final two innings.
Belmont and Vanderbilt entered the game after dropping series on the road to Austin Peay and Ole Miss respectively.
The Bruins loaded the bases early on, however Vanderbilt pitcher John Kilichowski pitched the Commodores out of the jam.
While both starting pitchers kept the scoreboard empty through two innings, a RBI triple from Dansby Swanson brought across Ro Coleman for the Commodores’ first run of the night.
After senior William Dodd was hit by a pitch and stole second, Kyle Conger doubled toward left field to bring Dodd across to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the fourth.
The Commodores regained control of the lead behind third baseman Will Toffey, whose sacrifice fly brought in Zander Wiel to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
While the top of Belmont’s order went down in the fifth, sophomore Tyler Walsh knocked a solo shot over the monster wall in left field to tie the game 2-2 in the top of the sixth.
Beaty had a similar approach to the plate as he hit his home run in a nearly identical spot in the top of the eighth to score the go-ahead run.
“Matt gives us such stability right there in the dead center of our lineup. It’s just quality at-bat after quality at-bat. Tyler Walsh homering to tie the game earlier in the ballgame was another huge at-bat. We got the potential to have an extremely offensive ballclub and these kids believe that,” Jarvis said.
In the bottom of the inning, Kinney struck out Rhett Wiseman and worked his way back from a 3-0 count to force Toffey to ground out.
Belmont couldn’t plate any insurance runs in the top of the ninth but looked toward Kinney once again to seal the deal.
With the Commodores down to their last out, Coleman fouled off four straight pitches, doing his best to extend the inning. But Kinney struck him out looking to clinch the 3-2 win for Belmont.
“There’s no one I rather have coming to the mound than Kinney for sure. It’s a good feeling. I felt comfortable him coming in behind me. That was great job he did finishing it off,” McGrath said.
Belmont improves to 19-15 on the season and has won seven of its last 11 games. The Bruins will travel to face Memphis Wednesday with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.