Belmont baseball walks it off, advances to semifinals in OVC Tournament
After a walk-off single by senior Jackson Campbell Thursday, Belmont University baseball advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinal round in Lexington, Kentucky.
Going down early in the contest, the OVC regular season champions needed an offensive spark if they wished to remain in the winner’s bracket of the tournament.
The No. 5 seeded Southern Illinois University Edwardsville bats were relentless for Belmont sophomore pitcher Andy Bean, homering twice and tallying seven runs in the top of the second.
After another SIUE four-bagger and a fielder’s choice RBI in the fourth with junior Aaron Hubbell on the mound, the Bruins’ playoff hopes looked bleak as the scoreboard had them trailing by seven.
But the Bruins continued to press.
Junior second baseman Jack Capobianco started things off in the bottom of the fourth with a home run over the right field fence to make the score 3-9.
With Hubbell remaining on the hill, the Bruins defense began to wake up in the fifth, producing a double play between Capobianco, junior shortstop Grayson Taylor and sophomore first baseman Brodey Heaton.
But it would be in the sixth when the Bruin offense started to rally.
With sophomore Mason Landers and Heaton each on base, graduate student Logan Jarvis ignited the engine by going deep to left center, knocking in three runs.
Outfielder Tommy Crider also had his crack of the bat in the inning, driving in Capobianco with an RBI double.
After six, the Bruins saw the gap narrowing on the Cougar lead, 7-9.
The top of seventh saw a pitching change as graduate student Dusty Baird took the bump to produce a quick inning.
Another Belmont run was scored in the seventh as Landers grounded out to drive in sophomore Guy Lipscomb, shortening the deficit to one.
Striking out two in the eighth, Baird and the Bruins returned to the dugout with their eyes on the prize.
It was in the bottom of the ninth where Heaton doubled to right center to drive in Lipscomb with the tying run.
After a pitching change to the SIUE mound, Spencer Smith struck out both Landers and Jarvis, making the inning one out away from retirement.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Heaton on third, Campbell stepped into the batter’s box.
Facing a 1-0 count, Campbell swung, pulling the ball into the shallow left field gap to effectively drive in Heaton with the winning run.
The Bruins won 10-9.
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Campbell said after the game. “I’m still kinda coming down off of it, but this team absolutely battled throughout the entire game. We knew we were down, but we just never give up and that’s just how we’ve been all year long. I’m so proud of the guys.”
Belmont will now head to the tournament’s semifinal round on Friday where it will face off against No. 6 seed Tennessee Tech University at Wild Health Field at 2 p.m.
PHOTO: Belmont baseball celebrates on the field after its 10-9 win over SIUE. Belmont Athletics
This article was written by A.J. Wuest.