The sophomore tandem of Griffin Neuer and Hunter Spencer powered the Bellarmine University baseball team to a sweep of McKendree on Saturday at Knights Field in Great Lakes Valley Conference play.
Neuer blasted a three-run homer and collected four RBIs in a 7-6 victory in the opener, while Spencer hurled a complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win in the tail end.
Spencer (4-1) allowed three hits and no walks against the Bearcats (10-15, 2-4 GLVC) while notching his second shutout of the season for Bellarmine (11-13, 3-3). The left-hander didn’t yield an earned run for a second-straight start and lowered his ERA to 1.45. Three of Spencer’s eight appearances this season have been starts, and he hasn’t given up an earned run in any of those outings.
Spencer faced the minimum over the final three innings. Only once – in the third inning – did the Bearcats have two runners reach base.
Bellarmine didn’t need much offense in the second game against Josh Tonozzi (2-1). In the third, senior center fielder Jes Staples drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored when Neuer doubled to right. Staples scored again in the fifth when he doubled to center and scored on an infield single by senior third baseman Cole Metcalfe.
That was all the scoring that took place in the finale. Staples and Metcalfe had two hits apiece for Bellarmine.
In the opener, the Knights built a 6-1 lead on starter Ryan Cates (3-2) before holding off McKendree’s rally. Neuer delivered a big blow when he cranked a two-out, three-run homer to right center in the third. It was Neuer’s team-leading third homer of the season and followed a bunt single by freshman right fielder Alex Phillips and a base hit by sophomore second baseman Trevor Lines.
Sophomore shortstop Drew Greenwood laced an RBI double down the left-field line for a 4-1 lead in the fourth, and junior first baseman Nick Wright punched a two-run single to left for a 6-1 advantage in the fifth. Wright’s was the third hit of the frame following a single to left by Lines and a bunt single by Staples.
After McKendree scored twice in the seventh to make it 6-3, Staples doubled in the seventh and scored when Neuer’s bouncer to first fortuitously stayed down on what appeared would be the final hop to the infielder. Instead, it scooted under his glove for an RBI single and what proved to be the winning run.
Austin Warner (2-2) earned the victory in the opener. The senior left-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings pitched. It was the fifth time in his six starts Warner allowed three earned runs or less.
McKendree scored twice in the seventh and three times in the eighth to cut its deficit to 7-6, but junior right-hander Will Birch sewed up the victory with 1.2 scoreless innings of relief in securing his first save. Birch has not allowed an earned run in 7.1 innings pitched spanning six appearances this season.
Neuer was 2 for 3 with four RBIs in the opener. Staples had two hits and two runs scored, as did Lines. Phillips chipped in two hits.
Bellarmine hosts McKendree in another GLVC doubleheader starting at noon (ET) on Sunday.
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