NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont scored seven unanswered runs Friday night and defeated SIUE 7-4 in the opener of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference baseball series at Rose Park.
The Cougars, now 8-20 overall and 6-10 in the OVC, took an early lead. Skyler Geissinger roped a two-out, two-run triple to right center to put SIUE on top 2-0. James Vazquez and Joel Greatting scored on the play. Vazquez was hit by a pitch. Greatting had reached on a walk. Geissinger later scored on an fielding error by Belmont starter Austin Coley to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
"It was nice to score early with Travis (Felax) on the mound," SIUE Interim Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "But I knew we had eight innings to play and didn't want to get ahead of ourselves."
Vazquez extended the Cougars' lead to 4-0 when he hit his second home run of the year, a solo shot, in the fifth.
Belmont (24-8, 11-2) got its first run in the bottom of the fifth. With a runner at second and two outs, Bruins' second baseman Alec Diamond lifted a shallow fly to left field. Geissinger and Cougar left fielder Brian Ryberg converged but the ball dropped between them allowing the run the run to score from second, making it 4-1.
The Bruins took their first lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Judah Akers homered with two outs to make it 4-2. Belmont right fielder Drew Turner doubled before third baseman Scott Moses homered to tie the score. The Bruins followed with three straight hits to take a 5-4 lead and chase Felax from the game.
Felax (3-4) tossed six innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits.
"He just got tired pitching into that head win all night," Stoecklin said. "He just hit the wall in the sixth."
Belmont added two more runs in the seventh on a second home run by Akers and a wild pitch.
"I stressed to the guys after the game that we gave up runs three different times when we made mistakes," Stoecklin said. "We had a miscommunication on a fly ball. We didn't make an easy throw to home and we didn't cover the plate on a wild pitch.
"That's the difference between winning and losing against a good team," Stoecklin continued. "They played mistake-free and we did not. We need to get to the point where we are playing a lot more mistake-free baseball."
Akers finished 4 for 4 with two home runs and two RBIs to lead the Bruins at the plate. Coley earned the win for Belmont. He tossed seven innings, allowing four runs on only two hits. He struck out seven.
The Cougars and Bruins play the second game of three game series Saturday. A 2 p.m. first pitch is scheduled.