Mercer Falls 13-4 in Series Finale Against USF
TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Mercer baseball team dropped a rain shortened series finale to South Florida 13-4 on Sunday afternoon at Red McEwen Field.
The game, which was originally set to be a 1 p.m. start, got moved up to a 10 a.m. start due to rain in the area. Heavy rain and swirling winds eventually came into play on and off in the final three innings of the contest before ending the game prematurely after seven innings.
The win in the series' rubber match moves South Florida's overall record up to 7-13 on the season. Mercer drops to 14-7 on the season after dropping the final two games of the three-game set.
The Bears still managed to take home some history despite dropping the series. The Orange and Black's 2-1 win in the series opener on Friday night was Mercer's first against a current Big East club since it took a game from West Virginia back in 1978.
"I am just disappointed we didn't have a better showing today," head coach Craig Gibson said. "This was a good road test for our team in a tough environment, but I just felt like we just gave them the game today."
USF lit up the scoreboard first with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. An RBI single by sophomore Todd Brazeal and an error allowed junior Stephen Hunt to score to put the Bulls up 2-0.
Mercer responded in a big way with four runs in the top of the second to reclaim the lead. After junior Thomas Carroll and senior Michael Langley put together back-to-back singles, junior Joe Winker drove Carroll in with a single up the middle to make the score 2-1. Freshman Evan Boyd followed suit two batters later with an RBI single of his own to tie the game up at 2-2. After senior Tyler McCarty walked, classmate Nick DiMauro gave Mercer the lead back with a two-RBI single up the middle to put the visitors back in front 4-2.
The back and forth seesaw affair continued in the bottom of the second when the Bulls retook the lead with a four-run frame. A wild pitch by Bears starter David Randall scored USF's first run, an RBI single by Hunt and a two-RBI single by catcher Eric Sim capped the scoring in the inning to put the Bulls back on top, 6-4.
Due to all the early offense generated by both clubs, each team's starter didn't last very long. Randall lasted just 2.0 innings allowing six runs, five of which were earned, on six hits in his shortest start of the season. USF's starter Matt Stull fared even worse, going only 1.2 innings allowing four earned runs on five hits to take an early exit.
USF added to its lead with runs in the third and fifth off the Bears bullpen. Junior Ryan Lockwood pushed an RBI single through the right side in the third to extend the Bulls lead to 7-4. RBI doubles by Lockwood and Hunt in the fifth gave the Bulls a comfortable 9-4 lead.
Langley highlighted a Mercer offense that knocked out seven hits on the day. The Lilburn, Ga. native went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and a run scored.
"We will use this series to help us prepare for a very good Georgia Tech team on Tuesday and for our road conference series against Jacksonville this weekend," said Gibson
The Bears will be back in action on Tuesday evening when they take on ACC power and fourth ranked Georgia Tech. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Claude Smith Field.