After a slow start to its season, the Belmont baseball team have shifted in gear and into first place in the Atlantic Sun.
Currently, Belmont is 23-10 on the season and 10-2 in Atlantic Sun conference play. They lead the rest of the conference by two games after sweeping USC Upstate this past weekend. Last season’s Atlantic Sun tournament championship and NCAA bid set the ground for the Bruins’ early success this year, said head coach Dave Jarvis.
“The experience and the success we had in the Atlantic Sun tournament and winning games in the NCAA regional setting carries over,” Jarvis said. “It gives the kids a sense that they’re not overwhelmed – they’ve been able to accomplish those things because they feel like ‘Hey we can still do this.’”
The Bruins have earned several signature wins this season, beating SEC teams like Auburn and Vanderbilt while winning a series versus a nationally-ranked Stetson team. They have won seven games in a row and 15 of their last 18.
“We put in a lot of work out here and to go in against an SEC program like Vandy and a team picked to win the conference like Stetson is big to get wins against them,” senior Drew Turner said. “It shows a lot about the team, how we’ve worked hard, and put it all on the line every day.”
Major keys to the Bruins’ success has been their strong chemistry and unselfish play, said senior Dylan Craig.
“We all get along, we fight together in games, and we all build off each other,” Craig said. “I haven’t seen that in a long time, having the team do that right off the bat.”
Pitching has been stellar on the mound and in the bullpen for the Bruins. Junior Chase Brookshire is continuing his success from last season with five wins, a 1.71 ERA and a team-leading 39 strikeouts.
Senior Garrett Fanchier has also earned 10 saves this season, which already gives him the fifth-most saves of any Bruin in a single season.
“Garrett is a senior this year and has carried a good load for us back in the bullpen,” Jarvis said. “A lot of younger players coming out of the bullpen and doing a tremendous job as well, kids like Scotty Moses and Austin Coley as freshman.”
While the Bruins’ pitching staff carried the team early in the season, the Belmont offense has also picked up substantially.
In their last 17 games, they have averaged nearly seven runs per game, as opposed to an average of around 4.7 runs in their first 16.
Most notably, the Bruins have scored 20 and 25 runs against Middle Tennessee State and Stetson respectively.
Individually, Mitchell leads the team in 10 offensive categories, including batting average, runs scored, and on-base percentage.
Craig is also put his name in the school’s record books in his senior season. During the series against Stetson, Craig became Belmont’s all-time hit leader and now has set 10 school records.
After the impressive first half of the season, the team is looking forward to finishing the regular season and conference tournament on top, Mitchell said.
“It’s going to be a grind, that’s for sure,” he said. “We got a lot of competition in our conference and a lot to look forward to.”
At this point, the Bruins’ main goal for the rest of the season is winning their conference tournament and returning to the NCAA tournament. This team, however, hopes to advance even farther than last year’s record setting team.
“If we continue playing the way we are, we have really good chance of continuing to progress,” Craig said. “We’re always building. We’re never satisfied. That’s our motto, we’re never satisfied.”
The Bruins continue their schedule this week with at home versus Tennessee Tech on Tuesday and on the road at Vanderbilt and Mercer from April 11-15.