Bowling Green State University baseball played very well in Saturday's season opening doubleheader at Belmont, splitting the twin bill with the Bruins. The Falcons, who lost a tough 2-1 game in seven innings in the first game of the day, bounced back nicely to win 8-3 in the night cap. BGSU banged out 16 hits in the second game. The Falcons and Bruins, both 1-1 on the season, will play the rubber match of the series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. CT.
GAME ONE – Belmont 2, Bowling Green 1
Cody Apthorpe, making the opening day start for the third consecutive season, went 5.1 innings and surrendered just three hits. The two runs that he allowed were both unearned, but he was tabbed as the tough-luck loser.
In the top of the first, senior Patrick Lancaster would reach base on a single, the Falcons first hit of the season. After being sacrificed to second by Brian Bien, he would eventually be stranded there to end the top of the first.
Apthorpe would surrender one of Belmont's three hits with two outs in the bottom half of the first, but would eventually catch the runner leaning towards second to end the inning on a caught stealing.
Senior Andrew Kubuski, who went 2-for-3 in the game, began the second inning with a web gem catch. On the play, Belmont's Jamie Ritchie would flare one out towards left, but Kubuski would make a diving catch as he came in and fully extended to keep the Bruins off the bases.
In the top of the third inning, making his first career plate appearance, Greg Basalyga would single for his first career hit. He would eventually be doubled off first base to end the third inning.
The Falcons would get on the board in the top of the fourth, as they did their damage all with two outs. After two were out in the inning, T.J. Losby would double down the left field line to put a runner in scoring position. With Losby at second, Kubuski would sneak one through the middle of the infield, and Losby would score to give BGSU a 1-0 lead.
The score remained 1-0 into the bottom of the sixth, where Apthorpe would allow his only walk of the day with one out. The tall righty would get a ground ball off the bat of the very next batter, but an error would allow the runner from first to reach second. A pickoff attempt would go awry with runners on, allowing Belmont to tie the game and have a runner on third, still with just one out. A single up the middle would give the Bruins a 2-1 lead, but reliever Ethan McKenney would come on to keep the score at 2-1. Both runs were unearned in the frame.
Kubuski would lead off the top of the seventh with a high-chopper off the plate, beating the throw from Belmont closer Greg Brody for a leadoff single. The Orange and Brown would fail to get a sacrifice bunt down, and the second out of the inning came on a groundout off the bat of Jesse Rait. However, on Rait's groundout, Kubuski would move up into scoring position, advancing to second base. Matt Smith would pinch-hit with two outs, but the Falcons would not be able to bring Kubuski in to score, dropping game one of the doubleheader, 2-1.
GAME TWO – Bowling Green 8, Belmont 3
The Falcons exploded offensively for 16 hits and eight runs in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, pulling away from Belmont for the 8-3 win. Ben Singer was credited with the win, as the Falcons improved to 1-1 on the season. He tied his career high with 4.2 innings pitched in the game.
Belmont had runners on with two outs in both the bottom of the second and third, but starter Mike Frank would work out of both jams to keep the game scoreless.
The Falcons threatened for the first time in the top of the third, as Brian Bien would triple into the right field corner with two away. After a Shay walk, which extended his streak to 16 consecutive games reaching base, Losby was retired to end the threat.
In the top of the fourth, Matt Smith would double with one out. That would be followed by a Johnny Crawford single—his first career hit and RBI—to score Smith and give the Orange and Brown a 1-0 lead.
The bats were back at it in the top of the fifth, as Lancaster would beat out a chopper to the shortstop to begin the inning. Bien would then double down the left field line, his second extra-base hit of the game, to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. After a groundout, Losby would deliver with an RBI single up the middle to score Lancaster and Bien, giving BGSU a 3-0 lead at the midway point.
Jason Link would come on in relief of Frank in the bottom of the fifth, but would struggle with his command walking two Belmont batters and hitting two more. Ben Singer would relieve him with one out and the bases loaded, and escape the jam with a 6-4-3 double play to maintain a 3-1 lead.
The Bruins would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, as a two-out double would score two to bring the game into a 3-3 deadlock.
In the top of the seventh, Bien would lay down a perfectly-placed bunt between the second baseman, pitcher, and first baseman for his third hit of the day. After a Shay sacrifice bunt—his first since 2012—Losby would single home Bien to give the Falcons the lead back. The RBI single was Losby's third run batted in of the game.
Aaron Loconsole would lead off the top of the eighth with an infield single—a ball that deflected off a lunging first baseman's glove and redirected away from the second baseman. Basalyga, the next batter, would drill a pitch into right-center field, allowing Loconsole to advance all the way to third.
With runners on the corners and nobody out, Lancaster would hit a slow chopper towards second. When the second baseman and pitcher converged, and did not communicate, it allowed the speedy lefty to easily reach first on an infield single. The RBI infield single by Lancaster to score Loconsole was his first of the season. After a Bien sacrifice bunt advanced two runners into scoring position, Jeremy Shay would bring both of them home with an RBI single up the middle.
With a 7-3 lead into the ninth inning, the Falcons would add an insurance run when Jesse Rait's single scored Kubuski from third.
Singer would close out the Bruins in the ninth to secure a decisive 8-3 victory for the Falcons.
Bowling Green will look to win the series tomorrow afternoon, when they meet Belmont at 1:00 p.m. CT for the third, and final, game of the series at E.S. Rose Park.