One week ago, the Belmont Bruins barely made the field of the Atlantic Sun tournament with a win on the last day of the regular season.
Now, the Bruins have turned the conference upside-down, and are only one win away from their first conference championship and NCAA Tournament bid.
The team earned its championship spot with a come-from-behind 6-4 win against #4-seeded Mercer Saturday afternoon. A top-of-the-ninth, two-run Derek Hamblen homer gave the Bruins a late lead. The game ended with a controversial tag and appeal at second base that led to the ejection of the Mercer first base coach. Hamblen ended the game with two hits, and Garrett Fanchier got the win for Belmont.
Belmont will play either Stetson, Jacksonville, or Mercer in the Atlantic Sun championship game, their first since 2007. The Bruins must win one of a potential two games Saturday afternoon to win the conference championship. The first game will be Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Lipscomb’s Ken Dugan Field, with the second, if necessary, at 5:00 p.m.
The Bruins opened the double-elimination tournament with a 15-3 blowout over the nationally-ranked Stetson Hatters. Every starter got a hit for Belmont in the game Thursday. Hamblen and Nate Woods both had home runs in the win. The win was Belmont’s third against the Hatters this season.
On Friday, the Bruins defeated the Kennesaw State Owls 4-1 in its second game of the tournament. Sophomore Chase Brookshire threw a complete game for Belmont, allowing only one run on eight hits. Hits by Matt Zeblo and Dylan Craig put the game out of reach for the Owls in the eighth.