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Belmont Takes Series for Cougars

Jarrett Bednar
Jarrett Bednar

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Belmont swept a doubleheader from SIUE Saturday, winning 8-5 and 8-3 to win the Ohio Valley Conference baseball series at Simmons Baseball Complex.

The Cougars are now 9-9 in OVC play and 12-22 overall. Belmont improved to 7-8 in OVC play and 15-20 overall.

The Cougars have now lost three consecutive OVC series, after opening the season with three consecutive series wins.

"We need to focus on getting better. Winning and losing will take care of itself if you focus on the process of what you need to do to get better every day," SIUE Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said. "We lose focus of that. That's going to be our goal next week: focusing on what it takes to get better every day."

In the opener the Cougars took a 2-0 lead in the fourth thanks to three consecutive one-out hits. Skyler Geissinger drove in a run with a double and then scored on a wild pitch later in the inning. Belmont got all the runs it needed in the sixth. The Bruins scored six times on five hits to take a 6-2 lead and chase Cougar starter Jake Stauffenberg.

Stauffenberg fell to 1-5 with the loss. He allowed six runs on nine hits. He walked three and struck out four.     

Matthew Kinney and Drew Ferguson each had two-run hits in the inning. The Bruins tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to lead 8-2.

Kinney finished 2 for 5 with a home run and three RBIs.

SIUE got RBIs from Austin Verschoore, Chase Green, and Alec Saikal in the bottom of the ninth to trim the lead to 8-5.

Saikal led the Cougars at the plate. He was 3 for 4 with three doubles and the RBI. Green and Devin Caldwell had two hits.

Belmont starter James Buckelew allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings to improve to 4-3.

In the nightcap, the Bruins led from the beginning. Belmont took a 1-0 lead against SIUE starter Evan Martens when Matt Beatty walked and then advanced and scored on three wild pitches. Bruins' outfielder William Dodd hit a three-run double in a four-run third inning that pushed the Belmont lead to 5-0.

Martens lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on three hits and three walks. He fell to 2-4.

It was 6-0 when the Cougars scored their only three runs of the game in the fifth inning. Following a leadoff single by Brian Sipe, Jacob Stewart connected for his second home run of the year to make it 6-2. Nick Lombardo was hit by a pitch and later scored on a single by Green to make it 6-3.

Stewart and Sipe each finished with two hits in the loss. The Cougars managed just six hits against four Belmont pitchers.

"As a whole our hitters were flat. We were flat as a team on offense all weekend," Stoecklin said. "For some reason we let left-handed pitching dictate our offense and we lose our approach and our focus and we shut down mentally at the plate."

Belmont reliever Christopher Carroll pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win for the Bruins. He allowed one hit, walked two, and struck out one to improve to 4-2.

Caleb Wilkerson followed Martens in the game for SIUE. He allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out two. Zach Malach allowed back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning to Brennan Washington and Kinney to make it 8-3. Jarrett Bednar tossed two scoreless innings for the Cougars. He allowed just two hits and struck out five. Brett Thomas tossed a scoreless ninth striking out one.

"Caleb Wilkerson and Jarrett Bednar both pitched well and it's going to give me the opportunity to re-tool our starting rotation for the weekend. So that's a plus," Stoecklin said. "I am extremely proud of Jarrett," He couldn't have had things go any worse for him to start off his career here. He's worked hard to get to where he is going to get an opportunity to get back in the rotation.

Caleb is starting to understand the accountability part of being a baseball player. It's a maturation process," Stoecklin continued. "He and I had a meeting earlier this week. He came out Tuesday firing bullets at SLU. He looked like a new pitcher and then he comes out today and throws extremely well. He's starting to mature and understand what he needs to do to be a successful pitcher."

The Cougars travel to Eastern Kentucky for a three-game OVC series Thursday through Saturday in Richmond, Ky.

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