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Mercer takes two from Bucs

Joe Avento • Mar 30, 2018 at 9:16 PM

Mercer’s baseball team came to Johnson City with one of the top offenses in the country. So far, the Bears have lived up to their billing.

Mercer won the first two games of a Southern Conference series with East Tennessee State, topping the Bucs 5-3 in the second game after finishing off a 10-4 victory in a game that had been suspended in the ninth inning because of rain Thursday night. The Bears, the fourth-highest scoring team in the country, have banged out 29 hits in the two games.

The results left Mercer 22-6 overall, 4-1 in the SoCon. ETSU fell to 14-9, 2-3.

In the regularly scheduled game, ETSU used a three-run fourth inning — fueled by RBIs from Caleb Longley, Cade Gilbert and David Beam — to take a 3-2 lead. It was the Bucs’ first lead of the series, but it didn’t last long.

Mercer evened things up in the top of the fifth and added single runs in the seventh and eighth while relief pitcher Robert Broom shut ETSU down with 4 1/3 perfect innings to end the game.

PIVOTAL INNING

With the game tied 3-3, the Bucs had a chance to do some damage in the fifth inning. They had the bases loaded when Mercer brought in Broom, who struck out Gilbert to end the threat. Broom wound up pitching the final 4 1/3 innings without allowing a base runner. He struck out five of the 13 batters he faced and improved to 5-0.

“They got a couple clutch hits and we didn’t,” ETSU coach Joe Pennucci said. “When you’re playing a good baseball team, you know they’re going to pitch and they’re going to hit. We just didn’t match up with them offensively.”

BY THE NUMBERS

The first six batters in the Mercer lineup each had two hits, while the No. 7 man, Drew Lingo, went 3 for 4 and drove in a pair of runs. It was his RBI single in the seventh inning that broke the tie.

Beam and Bailey had two hits apiece for the Bucs.

COMPLETION OF FIRST GAME

ETSU’s Aaron Maher hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the teams completed the suspended game. It wasn’t nearly enough as Mercer had forged a 10-3 lead heading into the ninth inning Thursday night.

Maher wound up 3 for 5, while Ben Jackson was 2 for 5. Longley also had a solo home run.

Micah Kaczor (2-2) was the losing pitcher after surrendering five runs — three earned — in six innings.

Jackson Ware did most of the damage for the Bears, going 4 for 4 with four RBIs. Trey Truitt hit his 10th home run of the season while going 3 for 4 and driving in two runs. David Posas also had three hits and three RBIs.

Mercer starter Austin Cox improved to 6-0 by holding ETSU to two runs on seven hits through seven innings. He struck out eight batters.

UP NEXT

The teams play the final game of the series Saturday at 1 p.m.

“Tomorrow we’ll try to see if we can sneak one out and get some momentum going into mid-week and next weekend,” Pennucci said. “At this point, when you lose two, the only thing you can do is salvage the weekend with a win. So we’ll do the best we can and match it up.”

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