Bears Late Inning Rally Not Enough in 7-5 Loss to Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Mercer baseball team battled all night long but ended up on the wrong end of a 7-5 decision against Jacksonville on Friday evening at John Sessions Stadium.
The loss is Mercer's fifth in a row, dropping its record to 14-10 overall and 2-2 in Atlantic Sun play. Jacksonville broke its four-game losing streak with the win to improve to 12-11 overall and 5-2 in A-Sun action.
"Great game on a Friday night between two top of the line starters in Loosen and Love," head coach Craig Gibson said. "Loosen was as good as we thought he was going to be, but Love pitched a heck of a game tonight as well."
The Dolphins opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a run off Mercer starter Brandon Love. After a leadoff walk and a single, junior Jamaal Hawkins hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make the score 1-0 JU.
Jacksonville used the long ball to retake the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Freshman Adam Brett Walker hit a towering solo home run to center field, his team leading eighth dinger of the season, to put the Dolphins back on top, 2-1.
JU increased its lead up to 6-1, in the fourth inning, when freshman Dan Gulbransen launched a three-run home run to right field.
The Orange and Black didn't lay down, however, cutting the Dolphins lead down to just one with a four-run rally in the sixth. An error on a pick-off throw by Jacksonville starting pitcher Matt Loosen and an RBI groundout by DiMauro put Mercer within three, at 6-3. Senior Tyler McCarty stepped to the plate two batters later and sliced a two-RBI double to left to make the score 6-5.
Love departed after 6.1 innings with a final line of six runs allowed on eight hits to go along with a career-high 11 strikeouts.
The Dolphins added an important insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to go up 7-5 when junior Glen Johnson pulled an RBI double down the left field line.
The Bears late inning rally came up just short in the end. Mercer loaded the bases in the ninth, but junior Chris Kaminski got out of the jam to close out the win for Jacksonville.
DiMauro and Winker each had identical 2-for-4 days at the dish with an RBI and a run scored in a losing effort.
Loosen went six innings and was charged with five earned runs on nine hits to earn the win.
"We played solid defense tonight, but we just need to improve on our situational hitting and execution," said Gibson. "We need to win those small battles against good A-Sun teams if we want to win ball games."
Mercer will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when it plays a doubleheader against Jacksonville to conclude the three-game series. Game one is scheduled for 1 p.m. with game two to follow at 4 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium.