NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont defeated SIUE 5-3 Friday in the opener of a three-game Ohio Valley Conference baseball series.
The first-place Bruins improved to 6-1 in OVC play and 11-10 overall. SIUE fell to 6-12 overall and 3-4 in the OVC.
"It was a frustrating loss for sure, SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "We knew tonight was going to be a tough matchup with their ace on the mound."
With the game tied 3-3, Belmont scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning. Devon Gardner doubled to lead off the inning and was sacrificed to third base. Hagan Severance was intentionally walked but then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Logan Jarvis was then intentionally placed on first base which loaded the bases. SIUE reliever Chris Robinson walked Hunter Holland which forced in the third run. He was then called for a balk with Zach Ehrhart at the plate which scored made it 5-3 Bruins.
"They got the leadoff double and I made the decision to put a guy on and set up the force situation," Lyons explained. "Unfortunately we walked the next guy and then we gave up the freebie."
Robinson fell to 3-2 with the loss. He worked 2 2/3 innings and struck out three.
Belmont took its initial lead when it scored three times on three hits and a walk against SIUE starter Collin Baumgartner in the third inning. Grayson Taylor single to score Ehrhart with the game's first run. Gardner then drove home two with a one-out double.
Baumgartner worked a season-high 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits and struck out three.
SIUE's Justin Perkins answered with a two-run double in the top of the fourth inning to trim the lead to 3-2. Dustin Woodcock, who reached on a walk, and Raul Elguezabal who reached on an infield hit, scored on the play.
"It was good out of our guys, to come right back," Lyons said. "But we were unable to string anything together throughout the day."
The double was one of few blemishes against Belmont starter Casey Queener, who worked seven strong innings. Queener allowed two runs on six hits. He struck out a career-best 13 hitters.
"(Queener) did a really nice job of mixing speed and really dominated through our lineup," Lyons said. "We were just unable to get much going."
The Cougars tied the game against Belomont reliever Logan Bowen in the eighth. Woodcock sliced a one-out double into left-center field and scored two batters later on an RBI-hit by Elguezabal.
Bowen (3-2) was awarded the win, despite allowing the run. He worked two innings and struck out two.
Both teams finished with seven hits. Elguezabal was the only SIUE hitter with more than a single hit. He was 2 for 4. Gardner was the only Bruin with multiple hits. He was 3 for 3.
The second game of the set is scheduled for a 2 p.m. first pitch Saturday at E.S. Rose Park.
"We'll come back tomorrow and try to even things up," Lyons said.