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Bruins win season opener, retire Whitten’s number

After a late ninth-inning rally, the Belmont baseball team held on to win its season opener 4-3 against the Valparaiso Crusaders Friday night at Rose Park.

The Bruins’ 4-0 lead was narrowed in the final inning after two hits followed by dropped fly ball in left field and a hit batter.

“We had put ourselves in jeopardy with a couple of missed plays and opportunity to end the game,” coach Dave Jarvis said. “Anything could have happened right there, but fortunately it went our way.”

Once Valparaiso pulled within one, relief pitcher Scott Moses eventually forced a fly out to center field to end the rally and give senior Chase Brookshire the season-opening win.

Earlier in the game, the senior made quick work on the mound for the Bruins, striking out the first five out of seven batters he faced.

“His start was the difference in the ballgame. Early on he had such dominating location,” Jarvis said. “He was so pinpoint with his accuracy and it allowed him to set hitters up and do a good job of keeping them off balance.”

In the bottom of the first inning, Belmont got off to a quick start when senior Judah Akers hit a triple into center field to bring in Moses, then an infielder, to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.

“Anything that breaks the ice for the season is a huge hit, and that is exactly what Judah did in that situation,” Jarvis said.

After reaching base on a walk, senior Josh Davis scored the Bruins’ second run of the night off a RBI double from Neil Hickman in the fourth inning.

Meanwhile, Brookshire continued to dominate on the mound. In five complete innings, he threw eight strikeouts, allowed three hits and did not give up a run.

“It’s always fun to win your first game. Everyone is looking forward to it ever since you finished the previous season,” Brookshire said. “It just felt great to face some different hitters and a new opponent.”

In the seventh inning, Belmont tacked two more runs onto its lead with runs scored by catcher Jamie Ritchie and Moses on a throwing error by the pitcher.

Prior to the game, Belmont honored former coach Dave Whitten who died last year. Whitten’s No. 21 was retired and his widow Martha threw the first pitch.

“I’m thrilled we were able to do that on a day that as special as this,” Jarvis said. “It’s a day to remember Coach Whitten and what Belmont baseball is. He’s the foundation of everything that this program is.”

Belmont will return to Rose Park at noon Saturday to continue its four-game home stand against the Ohio Bobcats.

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