Belmont scored eight runs in two innings Friday to open the Atlantic Sun Conference baseball season with an 8-2 victory over East Tennessee State at Thomas Stadium.
The Bucs, 9-7 overall and 0-1 in league play, will look to even up the conference series with a 1:05 p.m. game today. Belmont improved to 12-7 overall.
“I give a lot of credit to Belmont,” ETSU coach Tony Skole said. “I thought that Derek Bushey had some pretty good stuff today. Their guys just got good swings on him and barreled up some balls on us. I’m proud of our guys we battled back. The last five innings we held them in check and scored two runs. I really thought our third and fourth times through the lineup we were better.”
The Bucs scored their two runs in the sixth. Clinton Freeman was credited with a RBI on a fielder’s choice. A two-out single to left by Derek Niesman allowed Freeman to score what turned out to be the game’s final run.
The Bucs had a chance an inning before to cut into the Belmont lead when Kerry Doane doubled to start the frame and moved to third on Niesman’s single. However back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout ended the threat.
“We’ve got to get baserunners,” Skole said. “It’s tough when you get into the conference schedule everyone has good pitching. You have to take advantage of those opportunities, especially in RBI situations.”
The Bucs left eight runners on base.
Belmont jumped out to an 8-0 lead through four innings.
The visitors scoring started when Matt Beaty tripled down the right field line in the second after a lead-off bunt single by Judah Akers in the second. Later in the frame Jamie Ritchie hit a home run for a 3-0 margin.
The other five Bruin runs came in the fourth. The last two scores came on Dylan Craig’s home run to right center with two outs. Before that Beaty was able to score on a throwing error by the Bucs’ Derek Niesman at second that sailed wide of the target after receiving the ground ball off Jamie Ritchie’s bat. After a groundout put two outs on the scoreboard Zac Mitchell doubled to right center for a RBI and then Jared Breen singled off the top of the left field fence. Breen slipped coming around first, but he later scored on the home run.
“Any time in the Atlantic Sun when you can go on the road and pick up a win against a quality opponent like this you have to feel good about your Friday,” Belmont coach Dave Jarvis said. “There is a lot of baseball left to be played this weekend. We want to make sure we stay focused and come out with an intent and purpose.”
Belmont entered into the game with a .238 batting average and on Friday went 12-for-40. Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit.
ETSU saw production in the middle of the lineup as the 4-to-6 batters, Dylan Pratt, Doane and Niesman were a combined 6-for-12. The three Bucs in front of that trio went 1-for-11.
Belmont was able to give Chase Brookshire the lead early and he went to work. The junior lefty completed seven innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. He struck out a pair with a walk. Scott Moses tossed the final two innings and worked around a hit and walk.
Bushey was responsible for all eight runs, but only three went in the earned column for the junior. He scattered nine hits and struck out seven over the five innings on the mound. Will Chesney and Kuehl McEachern each pitched two scoreless innings out of the ETSU bullpen.