After a canceled series against Illinois State due to icy field conditions and schedule adjustments, the Belmont baseball team came out of the opening week with a 3-2 record.
The Bruins had not played a game since March 10, 2020, so the opening series versus Illinois State starting on Feb. 19 was their first chance to pick up where it left off last season.
The snow changed that, making it nearly impossible to play at E.S Rose Park and forcing Belmont to wait a few more days until the opening pitch.
“There were several challenges in preparing to start the season this year which was provided by the weather and the unusual circumstances that it created with so much snow and ice,” head coach Dave Jarvis said.
Belmont vs. North Alabama University:
Fortunately, the extended wait only lasted four more days as the team took on North Alabama on Feb. 23, winning the away game, 5-1.
“I was so excited to be back behind the plate and get to compete with my teammates,” catcher Jackson Campbell said.
“I was extremely nervous pre-game just because it had been so long since our last game but after we took the field, all my nerves went away and I was so happy to be back on the field,”
Freshman Austin Ehren made his first start at left field against North Alabama. In the game, he recorded a single RBI and broadened the Bruin lead, 2-0.
“It was unbelievable making my first collegiate start. Ever since I was little, I dreamed about playing college baseball and for the past two years, I have just been waiting for my chance,” Ehren said.
After sophomore Jack Capobianco scored off a wild pitch to extend the lead 3-0, center fielder John Behrends recorded his first collegiate triple to kick off the fifth inning.
“I was just trying to do my job and get on base. I got down to two strikes and then worked it back to a full count and luckily got a pitch that I could drive to the middle part of the field,” Behrends said.
He later scored thanks to Capobianco’s two-RBI single, giving Belmont its fifth run of the game.
Sophomore pitcher Joshua South made his first start of the season against North Alabama and recorded five strikeouts in two innings.
Junior Kyle Brennan closed the game versus North Alabama and recorded his 15th collegiate save, tying him with Jimmy Stanley and Robbie McNair in Belmont’s all-time career save list at five.
“Our pitchers really helped us out. We knew we had to score first in order to win this game and that’s what we did,” Ehren said.
Belmont vs. North Kentucky University:
On Friday, Belmont originally was set to face off against Northern Kentucky in a standard nine-inning game and finish the two-game series off Sunday.
Due to the threat of flash flooding, however, the second game against NKU was moved to Friday, becoming a seven-inning doubleheader.
Belmont split the doubleheader against NKU, winning the first, 5-4.
However, initially, Belmont fell behind, 4-0, in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, Belmont sophomore Carson Shacklett hit a solo home run, putting the Bruins on the board, 4-1.
In the sixth inning, Belmont’s junior third baseman Logan Jarvis hit a one-run RBI double, driving in Behrends. Then Campbell hit a single RBI, driving in sophomore Tommy Crider. And freshman Drew Lowry hit a two-run RBI triple, giving Belmont the lead, 5-4.
As far as pitching, junior Logan Bowen recorded his first start of the season, but it was junior reliever Stone Selby who picked up the win for the Bruins.
The second game did not go as smoothly for the Bruins as the team lost, 11-10.
Belmont did most of its offensive damage in the third inning scoring seven runs and building its lead to 8-1.
The next Belmont run was scored in the fifth when Shacklett stole home, giving the Bruins a commanding 9-1 lead.
NKU didn’t give up scoring six runs in the top of the sixth, cutting the Bruin lead to two
Freshman Mason “Butter” Landers responded to NKU in the bottom of the sixth when he hit a solo home run, making the score 10-7.
NKU scored four more runs in the contest to win the game by one.
Stand-outs from this game were undoubtedly Behrends and Landers, who each went 3-4 at the plate.
Belmont vs. Creighton University:
Belmont hoped to bounce back as it took on Creighton in another 7 inning doubleheader the following day.
The Bruins won the first game, 3-2.
Belmont’s three runs were all scored in the third inning when Jarvis hit a two-run RBI single, driving in freshman Jack Rando and Shacklett.
Following Jarvis, Campbell also hit an RBI by driving in Jarvis to further extend Belmont’s lead, 3-0.
The Bruins’ three runs were enough as freshman pitcher Andy Bean, who relieved South in the sixth inning, successfully held the Bluejays to two runs, securing Bean with the save.
South’s pitching was dominant as he recorded five strikeouts and no earned runs in his five innings pitched, earning him the win.
Once again, the Bruins came up short in the second game losing, 9-3.
Similar to the second game against NKU, Belmont jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
In the second inning, Belmont’s lead was further extended to three runs when Lowry hit a solo home run, pulling the ball over the left-field fence.
That became the last run Belmont scored.
In the top of the third, Creighton matched Belmont’s three-runs tying the game at 3-3.
Belmont emphasized using its bullpen as a new reliever appeared in each inning after the third, and three relievers were used in the sixth.
Creighton’s offense took the lead in the sixth inning and further extended its lead, 9-3, and never turned back.
“We feel like this team has the capability, if they play within themselves and stay focused on the task at hand, to accomplish very good things this year,” coach Jarvis said.
“Our goal is to take things one step at a time and keep the process very simple in that regard.”
After its opening week, Belmont holds a winning 3-2 record. And next up, Belmont takes on the University of Mississippi in a three-game series starting on Mar. 5.
This article written by A.J. Wuest. Photos by Sarah Maninger.