The No. 1 seeded Belmont Bruins advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference Championship after a crushing 8-3 victory over No. 6 seeded Tennessee Tech University Friday afternoon.
Junior pitcher Joshua South struck out eight and only allowed two runs during his seven innings on the mound, earning his eighth win of the season.
The Bruins got the ball rolling early as graduate student Logan Jarvis singled to drive in junior Tommy Crider and sophomore Brodey Heaton in the bottom of the first.
The Golden Eagles responded in the second with an RBI single from Hayden Gilliland, driving in Ryan Guardino to make the score 2-1.
With his single to right field in the bottom of the inning, Heaton added two more Belmont runs to cushion the Bruin lead to three.
Tennessee Tech shortened the cushion in the third with a sacrifice-fly from Gabe Lacy to bring in Austin Turner.
After a short rain delay in the bottom of the third, the bats cooled for both sides as defenses tightened up.
But the Bruin offense was back in business in the bottom of the seventh as sophomore Mason Landers doubled deep to left.
With sophomore Austin Ehren on second during the play, he advanced to third and, seeking to score, was caught in a run-down between third and home. Impressively dodging the tag at home, Ehren scored to make the game 5-2.
Jarvis added another run for the Bruins in the seventh inning with an RBI single to leftfield.
Relieving South in the top of the eighth was sophomore Dominic Baratta who allowed only one run and pitched his way out of the inning.
After a four-pitch walk for Ehren in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore Drew Lowry stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat of the day and crushed a home run over the left-field fence, making the score 8-3.
The top of the ninth saw senior closer Kyle Brennan on the bump, who efficiently retired the game, securing the Bruin victory.
Belmont now heads to the winner-take-all championship game Saturday afternoon where it will square off against No. 2 seeded Southeast Missouri State University.
The first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
PHOTO: Joshua South celebrating a pitch; Courtesy of Belmont Athletics and Jackson Drake
This article was written by A.J. Wuest