NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont (8-2) rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to defeat Illinois State (2-5), 5-3, on a cold, snowy afternoon Friday in Nashville. The Redbirds have now dropped five straight.
Three Redbirds collected two hits and Zac Johnson drove in a pair of runs, as Illinois State out-hit Belmont, 10-6. Drew Ferguson paced the Bruins with two hits and two RBI, and Judah Akers collected a game-tying solo home run for Belmont.
Will Headean (0-2) made his first collegiate start and was handed the loss, allowing five earned runs in 6.1 innings. Headean struck out five, walked three and allowed four hits. At one point, he retired eight-consecutive Bruins. Jessie Snodgrass (1-0) earned the victory in relief, working two innings of one-run ball. He struck out two and allowed three hits. Scott Moses (1) collected the save in the ninth.
Illinois State took an early lead, scoring twice in the top of the third inning. With two outs and the bases empty, Chad Hinshaw and Brett Kay collected consecutive singles. They then advanced on a double-steal and scored on Johnson’s two-run single to right field. It was the only runs allowed by Belmont starter Chase Brookshire, who pitched six innings, struck out six and walked one. He left with a no-decision.
Belmont added one run in the fourth inning without collecting a hit. Akers opened the frame with a walk and later scored on a sacrifice-fly from designated hitter Neil Hickman.
Akers tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, connecting on a solo home run off Headean.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Headean retired the first batter he faced before Scott Moses reached on a single. Joseph Stovall then bunted the ball on the right side of the infield where Kyle Stanton’s throw to first sailed high allowing runners to advance to second and third. Headean left the game after walking Jamie Ritchie to load the bases.
Matt Schmitt came on in relief and surrendered a two-run double to Ferguson, making it 4-2 Belmont. Following a hit-by-pitch, Schmitt left the game for Jeremy Rhoades. Akers lifted a sacrifice-fly off Rhoades to make it 5-2, before Rhoades closed the seventh inning.
Rhoades collected the first out in the eighth and David Suarez finished the scoreless frame.
Illinois State added one final run in the eighth inning. Johnson reached on a hit-by-pitch and advanced to second base on Aguilera’s single. Stanton lifted a RBI-double to center field to pull ISU within two, 5-3.
In the ninth inning, Scott Moses allowed one hit before retiring Hinshaw to end the game.
Game two of the series takes place Saturday with a 2:00 p.m. first pitch. Dan Savas counters Alex Coley.