As winter comes to an end and the new grass grows at E.S. Rose Park, Belmont’s baseball team gears up for the start of a new season on Friday.
The Bruins, coming off an Ohio Valley Conference tournament loss to rival Tennessee Tech, have some unfinished business this season. Belmont, who ended the season shedding eight seniors, was voted in this year’s OVC head coaches’ preseason poll to place fourth behind Jacksonville State, Morehead State, and Tennessee Tech.
Entering his 21st year as Belmont baseball head coach, Dave Jarvis says he’s excited to see what the current upperclassmen players will contribute to the team and how they will rise as team leaders.
“We have good pitching depth, I think we got all three conference starters returning, and we have added some pretty good elements to our recruiting class this year,” Jarvis said. “In baseball, depth is a real important factor, I think we have a real solid lineup.”
Pitching seems to be the Bruins’ bread and butter this year, especially with junior Dylan King being voted OVC Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
“Pitching and defense is always where I like to start to build a team, and I see that this team has very good potential in both of those areas,” Jarvis said.
Along with King, Belmont has a few more arms which have shown dominance on the mound in the previous season. Senior Tyler Vaughn struck out 96 batters in 100 innings pitched during the 2017 season. Junior Kyle Klotz also set an OVC record last season with 46 appearances, the most among all Division I players.
Despite losing superstar senior Nick Egli, who led the team in RBI’s (54), batting average (.353), and homeruns (18), sophomore Matt Cogen could be the force the Bruins need at the plate.
As a redshirt freshman last season, Cogen led the team in at-bats (235) and hits (78). Cogen also finished third in batting average (.332) and was elected to the All-OVC First Team. The now-sophomore outfielder knows that after a fantastic first season in Division I baseball, some players may slip up and fall into a sophomore slump.
“There’s always room to improve, no matter how much you succeed. Baseball is game of failure,” Cogen said. “I’m just trying to give it my best everyday for my teammates and be a leader.”
With half of this season’s roster being made up of first year players, Cogen knows the team will need a few games to allow the flow to fall in place. He’s still confident that the Bruins have the talent and the drive to compete.
“Ultimately our goal,” Cogen said “is to win the Ohio Valley Conference regular season, win the tournament, go to a regional and win that.”
Games to watch out for:
Opening day, Friday, Feb. 16. Belmont vs. Youngstown State at E.S. Rose Park
Battle of the Boulevard, March 13. Belmont vs. Lipscomb at E.S. Rose Park.
Vandy Rivalry, March 20. Belmont vs. Vanderbilt at First Tennessee Park.
April 6. Belmont vs. Austin Peay at E.S. Rose Park.
Belmont vs. Jacksonville State series, weekend of April 20th at E.S. Rose Park.
Tournament rematch, May 4. Belmont vs. Tennessee Tech at E.S. Rose Park.
This article written by Steven Boero.