NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Charlie Cordin opened the bottom of the first inning with a leadoff homerun to left field and finished the day with three hits and three RBIs as the Belmont Bruins (22-11) knocked off East Tennessee State (10-19) by a score of 7-5 on Saturday evening.
Cordin's leadoff homer set the tempo for the day, but the Bucs would battle throughout the game. East Tennessee State answered every Belmont run with run of their own through the first three innings. The Bruins scored two runs in the fourth inning as the team put together three straight singles. The Bucs finally took the lead in the fifth inning when they scored three runs, chasing Belmont starter Jason Andrea and capturing a 5-4 lead entering the bottom half of the frame. Designated hitter Chad Borough drilled a two-run single to highlight the inning. However, starter Josh Kite gave up a leadoff single to Jason Warp and then walked Dan Soup before exiting the game. Reliever Jarred Hydra could not put out the fire as he gave up a sacrifice fly to Josh Brunet and back-to-back RBI singles to Chris Sledge and Cordin, allowing the Bruins to jump ahead 7-5. The game was then handed to the Belmont bullpen that responded in heroic fashion. Freshmen Chris McKee and Alex Renes combined to throw 4.1 innings of one-hit, shutout relief. McKee allowed three base runners in his 3.1 innings, but struck out three Bucs and allowed only one runner to reach as far as second base. Renes entered the game in the ninth inning and after surrendering a leadoff walk, retired the next three players to close the door.
McKee improved to 5-0 with his relief appearances and lowered his earned run average to a minuscule 0.98 in 18.1 innings. Renes earned his team-best third save while ETSU starter Josh Kite received the loss and fell to 1-5 on the season. Eight of the Bruins' nine position players reached base safely, led by Cordin's three hit performance. Senior Chris Sledge nearly matched that, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Andy Baxter, Brandon Cross, and Chad Borough had two hits for ETSU while Cross and Borough each had a pair of RBIs. Belmont ran their record to 22-11 with the win while East Tennessee State, who beat Austin Peay earlier in the day, fell to 10-19.
These two teams will face each other again on Sunday. Brandon Jaggers (5-1, 3.16 ERA) will take the mound for Belmont looking to pick up his team-leading sixth victory while Matt Hensley (1-3, 7.22 ERA) is the probable starter for ETSU. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 pm at Greer Stadium.