Belmont baseball blasts past Toledo for three wins in opening series
Welcoming the University of Toledo over the weekend, the Belmont University baseball team opened its season with a four-game series on home turf.
After falling short 3-2 Friday night, the Bruins rebounded with three commanding victories in a row to close out their run at E.S. Rose Park on a high note.
In Saturday’s seven-inning doubleheader, Belmont won its first contest 7-2 before silencing the Rocket dugout in game two with a 5-0 shutout.
The Bruins continued their momentum into Sunday with another shutout triumph, 3-0.
Sporting crisp white uniforms with junior pitcher Joshua South ready on the mound, Belmont opened its season with style.
After a walk, two groundouts and a strikeout in the top of the first, the Bruins returned to the dugout for a chance to warm up the bats.
Belmont set the tone early as sophomore leadoff batter Guy Lipscomb homered to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
After three straight strikeouts to Toledo pitcher Kyle Jones, the Bruins were back in the field for South to work his magic.
South recorded another strikeout, a flyout and a groundout to make a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second.
After an infield flyout and a called third strike in the bottom of the second, junior outfielder Carson Shacklett stepped up to bat.
Shacklett delivered a hard-hit line drive past the Rockets’ shortstop to keep the inning alive.
Following Shacklett in the lineup, senior Jackson Campbell popped a shallow fly ball into the outfield, advancing Shacklett to third base.
The two Bruins were left on base, however, as the next contact found a glove deep in left-center, ending the second.
The top of the third saw much action as Toledo batter Trey Wright sent a powerful line drive down the first base line, bouncing deep into right field.
Rounding second, Wright looked to make it a triple. But Belmont junior right fielder John Behrends rose to the challenge, successfully recovering the ball to send it flying to senior Logan Jarvis at third base, just in time to tag Wright out.
After walking two batters later in the inning, South found himself in trouble as a flyout advanced a Rockets runner to third.
With runners on first and third with two outs, the runner on first dashed to steal second.
With intent to throw the stealing runner out, Campbell fired the ball to second base.
On the play, the runner on third naturally sprinted to home plate, seeking to score.
After the throw failed to reach in time, second baseman Jack Capobianco then threw back to Campbell but was unsuccessful in stopping the Rockets from scoring, 1-all.
South struck the next batter out, retiring the side.
After a Lipscomb out and a Behrends walk to begin the bottom of the third, sophomore Brodey Heaton sent a line drive RBI double down the third base line, effectively driving Behrends in for the run, 2-1.
Heaton was left on base as the next two Bruin batters were struck out.
Bats then began slowing as both defenses dominated for the next couple innings.
With one out in the top of the sixth, South exited the game recording an impressive five strikeouts in his five innings of play and a 2-1 Belmont lead. Junior Aaron Hubbell relieved him.
After a Toledo base hit off Hubbell, the Rockets were in scoring position as runners on first and second stole second and third.
The next Rockets batter drove in the runner on third with a sacrifice groundout, tying the game 2-all.
A dropped infield pop fly let the Rockets take the lead 3-2.
Jarvis was able to finally retire the side on the next contact, fielding the ball and throwing the runner out at first.
Belmont threatened to come back several times for the remainder of play, but could never reach home.
Despite outhitting the Rockets 15-7, the Bruins failed to execute on scoring positions.
Toledo won 3-2.
Game one stat standouts:
Shacklett and Campbell went 4-4 in their at-bats.
Jarvis went 2-5 and doubled in the seventh.
Heaton went 2-5 with an RBI in the third.
Lipscomb went 2-5 and a home run.
South recorded 5 strikeouts in his 5.1 innings pitched.
After falling to Toledo in its season opener Friday, the Bruins returned to E.S. Rose Park Saturday for a seven-inning doubleheader.
Wearing its light blue uniforms this time, Belmont sought to rebound.
In his five innings of play, sophomore starting pitcher Andy Bean brought the fire, striking out six batters and only allowing one hit while on the hill.
The Belmont bats began cooking in the bottom of the second when junior shortstop Grayson Taylor drove Shacklett in for an RBI, sparking the scoreboard to life 1-0.
The inning wasn’t finished, however, as Taylor and Capobianco each found home off a Lipscomb two-run RBI, extending the Bruins’ lead 3-0.
After allowing one run to score in the top of the third and two straight strikeouts for Bean in the fourth, the Bruins’ offense was prepared for another rally.
Walking Shacklett and giving up a single to Campbell in the bottom of the fourth, Toledo pitcher Kyle Music was taken out of the game when Capobianco laid a sacrifice bunt to reach second by error, bringing in Shacklett on the play to further Belmont’s lead to 4-1.
Toledo sophomore CJ Lewis replaced Music to immediately give Taylor an RBI single, batting in both Campbell and Capobianco to reach 6-1.
The Bruins continued their scoring rally in the fifth after designated hitter Tommy Crider smashed a double down the third base line.
Campbell then drove Crider in for the run with another RBI double, cushioning the Bruin’s commanding 7-1 lead.
Relieving Bean in the top of the sixth came graduate student Dusty Baird, who closed the game out but let through two hits and one run in his two innings pitched.
Belmont won 7-2.
Game two stat standouts:
Bean recorded six strikeouts and only allowed one run in his five innings pitched.
Campbell hit an RBI double in the fifth and scored a run in the second.
Lipscomb hit two RBIs and recorded one hit in his two at-bats.
Shacklett recorded one hit and scored two runs.
Taylor went 2-3, hit three RBIs and scored a run.
After losing the first contest in Saturday’s doubleheader, the Toledo dugout started game three of four extra loud to bring up the energy.
The Rockets quickly settled down, however, as the Bruins exploded into a productive start.
Dominic Baratta took the mound for Belmont, pitching an impressive game with four strikeouts and no runs in his five innings played.
After a 1-2-3 out-inning in the top of the first, Belmont continued the offensive power showcased in the previous game.
Doing what he does best, Lipscomb stole home off a wild pitch to Jarvis, bringing the score to 1-0 with a man on second and third.
Following back-to-back strikeouts, Shacklett stepped up to the plate.
Continuing his red-hot momentum, Shacklett drove the ball to a pesty spot in shallow left field, driving Behrends and Heaton in.
A ground out ended the inning with a 3-0 Belmont lead.
The Bruins did not disappoint in the second either, further hushing the Rocket dugout as the Belmont lead grew to 4-0.
The top of the third brought another outstanding performance from Barratta and the Bruin gloves as the three batters faced were each called out.
Crider was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the inning and after giving up a single to Shacklett, Toledo pitching coaches put Rockets freshman Brennan McCune into the game.
With a man on first and second with no outs, freshman catcher Blake Barton hit a flyout for the Bruins, advancing Crider to third.
Crider successfully stole home off a wild pitch to Capobianco, furthering Belmont’s lead to 5-0.
After more outstanding pitching from Barratta, senior Chandler Schultz came into the game for relief in the top of the sixth.
Shultz continued the Bruin pitching dominance, striking out three batters in the 6th and one in the seventh, closing out the game with a shutout win.
Belmont won 5-0.
Game three stat standouts:
Barratta recorded four strikeouts in five innings pitched.
Shultz recorded four strikeouts in two pitched innings.
Shacklett went 2-2 and hit 2 RBIs.
Jarvis hit an RBI in the bottom of the second.
Barton hit 1-2 and recorded a double in the bottom of the fifth.
Heaton hit 1-3 and scored a run in the bottom of the first.
The Bruins looked to finish out their opening series Sunday afternoon with another win.
Playing a full nine-inning game, Belmont walked onto the field in its navy blue jerseys.
Sophomore Jalen Borders took the mound with big shoes to fill in order to keep the Bruins’ pitching command going strong.
Borders rose to the challenge, striking out four batters and putting a stop to any runs in his six innings on the hill.
Will Jenkins relieved him in the seventh to record three strikeouts and no runs in his two innings.
Closing out the game, senior Kyle Brennan delivered the heat, striking out one batter in the ninth.
Hitting the ball effectively in the first couple innings, the Bruins initially struggled to execute in scoring positions.
This all changed, however, in the bottom of the fourth when Lipscomb sent a hard line drive RBI triple down the first base line, batting Capobianco in for the score.
Behrends could then drive Lipscomb home with an RBI single to retire the fourth with a commanding 2-0 score for the Bruins.
After another dominant inning for Borders on the mound, Jarvis busted the ball in his at-bat, sending it over the 375-foot sign in right-centerfield to further the Belmont lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
After a single from sophomore pinch hitter Jack Rando and a Lipscomb walk, the Bruins found themselves in scoring position once again in the bottom of the eighth.
Due to a controversial call after Heaton’s at-bat that sent Belmont head coach Dave Jarvis into a frenzy, the inning ended with two men on base.
In the bottom of the ninth, Brennan effectively kept the shutout alive.
Belmont won 3-0, bringing their series successes to 3-1 for the weekend.
Game four stat standouts:
Jarvis hit a home run in the fifth.
Lipscomb hit 3-3, scored a run and hit an RBI double in the fourth.
Behrends recorded an RBI in the fourth.
Capobianco hit 2-2.
Sophomore infielder Mason Landers hit 1-1 and recorded a double in the seventh.
Borders recorded four strikeouts and allowed no runs in his six innings pitched.
Jenkins recorded three strikeouts in his two innings pitched.
After a successful opening weekend, the Bruins now stand on a 3-1 record and will return to E.S. Rose Park to take on Middle Tennessee State University in a one-game contest Tuesday.
The Bruins will then face off against Youngstown State University for another four-game weekend Friday through Sunday at home.
PHOTO: No. 7 Andy Bean on the mound at E.S. Rose Park during Saturday’s 1 p.m. game. Jessica Mattsson / Belmont Vision
This article was written by A.J. Wuest.
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