The Bellarmine University baseball team has been involved in several thrillers this year, and the Knights saved one of their tensest contests for their regular-season finale.

After falling 1-0 to Wisconsin-Parkside in Saturday’s opener, Bellarmine saw an 8-1 lead evaporate in the tail end before the Knights posted two runs in the 10th inning and held on for an 11-10 victory in Great Lakes Valley Conference play.

While the run production of Bellarmine (33-17, 20-8 GLVC) reached double-digits in the capper against the Rangers (18-22, 12-14), the defense was just as important in salvaging a split. In the eighth, Wisconsin-Parkside roared back with six runs, but sophomore right fielder Zac Wiley managed to throw the potential tying run out at the plate to help maintain an 8-7 lead.

Bellarmine did commit an error that opened the door for the Rangers to score twice in the ninth to knot it at 9, but with no outs in the 10th, Knights junior left fielder Griffin Neuer relayed to junior shortstop Drew Greenwood, who threw to senior catcher Christopher Allen to gun down the lead baserunner attempting to score on a double. Bellarmine had gained an 11-9 advantage in the top half, and the execution on the relay prevented another tie as UWP cut its deficit to one run before freshman right-hander Ryan Henson (1-0) sealed the victory with a game-ending strikeout.

With one out in the top of the 10th, senior pinch hitter Michael Belliveau broke a 9-all deadlock with a sacrifice fly. Not only did sophomore third baseman Josh Finerty score, Wiley trotted in as well with what proved to be the winning run after a Rangers throwing error on the play.

Behind a two-run single by Finerty and an RBI single by junior second baseman Alex Ralph, Bellarmine scored five runs in the third inning. The Knights tacked on three more in the eighth for an 8-1 lead as Greenwood delivered an RBI single, and Allen laid down a squeeze-bunt RBI single.

Sophomore left-hander Alex Phillips mostly cruised through the first 7.0 innings while allowing only one run, but Wisconsin-Parkside opened the eighth with four-straight hits. Senior right-hander Will Birch entered and got a line out, but the Rangers followed with three-consecutive doubles in staging a major comeback that the Knights ultimately overcame.

In the finale, Greenwood collected three hits while Finerty, Wiley, junior designated hitter Brady Pfaadt and freshman center fielder Bobby Brokamp had two each.

In the opener, Bellarmine was shut out for the second time in three games by Wisconsin-Parkside. Mario Samuel (3-5) threw 5.1 scoreless innings before combining with Cody Rolshoven and Keaton Kastberg to blank the Knights.

Greenwood and Wiley tallied two hits apiece in the first game. Freshman right-hander Jacob Nagel (1-1) pitched solidly in the loss, allowing one run in the third inning and nothing else over 5.0 innings. Junior right-hander Yancey Pritchett posted his sixth-straight scoreless relief appearance while tossing 1.0 inning.

Bellarmine had no trouble earning a berth in the GLVC Tournament. The bracket will be announced after all teams complete the regular season. The Knights are currently second in the GLVC East behind Southern Indiana (21-5 GLVC).

For more coverage of Bellarmine athletics, follow us on Twitter (@BUKnights), Instagram (BUKnights), Facebook (BUKnights) and the BUKnights mobile app available for iPhone and Android.

by Adam Pruiett