The Owls couldn’t hold onto a two-run lead over Belmont and fell 10-4 on Saturday in the final game of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.
Third-seeded Kennesaw State (34-25) allowed 13 hits to the top-seeded Bruins (39-22), who repeated as the A-Sun champion. It was a far cry from earlier in the day, when the Owls totaled 12 hits in a 13-4 win over Florida Gulf Coast.
A Max Pentecost double and Ronnie Freeman single gave Kennesaw State a 2-0 lead after 2½ innings, but that’s when Belmont wrestled momentum away.
After tying it in the bottom of the third, the Bruins took the lead for good with four runs in the fifth — capped by an RBI single from former Sprayberry High School standout Jared Breen.
The Owls got two runs back in the sixth, but Belmont pulled away with four more unanswered runs.
The Bruins’ offense was orchestrated by their first baseman, Judah Akers. Akers went 5-for-5 with four RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored. The five hits tied an A-Sun tournament record, and Akers was named the tournament MVP.
Zac Mitchell and Drew Turner also had multi-hit games, while Alec Diamond, a Walker School product, drew three walks as Belmont’s designated hitter.
Owls starter Colton Cross (4-2) did not record a strikeout in four innings, giving up five runs on six hits and three walks.
Aaron Dobbs, Chris McGowan and Kody Belcher each had two hits for Kennesaw State.
The offense in Saturday’s penultimate game for the Owls was sparked early, following Andy Chriscaden’s one-out grand slam.
That wasn’t where Chriscaden’s contributions ended. The senior first baseman added a two-run triple in the fifth inning and an RBI groundout in the seventh to finish with seven RBIs, tying a tournament record.
Dobbs, Peyton Hart and Andy Almonte were all benefactors of Chriscaden’s RBIs, scoring a total of eight runs between them.
Kennesaw State was also boosted by plenty of favors from Florida Gulf Coast (26-31), which committed four errors and threw 10 walks.
Travis Dean (4-1) saved the Owls’ pitching staff for what turned out to be a grueling second game. The sophomore right-hander — who entered the game with a 7.45 ERA through just five appearances — pitched eight innings, only striking out one but inducing 12 outs on the fly and 10 more on the ground.
Kennesaw State placed three players on the 11-man all-tournament team — Chriscaden, Dobbs and Freeman.