The visiting Bellarmine University baseball team fell 8-1 to North Alabama on Friday night in its season debut.
Sophomore right fielder Zac Wiley homered in first at-bat of the season for the Knights (0-1) and added another base hit. Junior third baseman Alex Ralph added a pair of hits, while junior left fielder Griffin Neuer, sophomore designated hitter Josh Finerty and junior catcher Brady Pfaadt chipped in one apiece.
Wiley connected for his first collegiate home run in the first, an opposite-field blast that gave Bellarmine a 1-0 lead. Behind a combined 13 strikeouts from Tyler Joyner and Dylan Stewart, North Alabama (2-2) shut out the Knights the rest of the way.
Joyner (2-0) settled in after Wiley’s homer and fanned 10 while allowing six hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Stewart struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.
North Alabama tied it in the second on Kyle Hubbuch’s solo homer, added two more runs in the third, one in the fifth and four in the eighth.
Junior left-hander Hunter Spencer (0-1) took the loss for Bellarmine, allowing four earned runs while striking out seven in 5.0 innings pitched. Freshman right-hander Ryan Henson pitched 2.0 innings in his collegiate debut, and sophomore left-hander Willie Poe added 1.0 after missing all of last season due to injury.
Bellarmine stranded a pair of runners in the second and couldn’t score after having runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth.
Bellarmine and North Alabama will play a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday.
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by Adam Pruiett