Bears Drop 16-Inning Marathon to FGCU, 6-3
MACON, Ga. – Mercer University and Florida Gulf Coast University gave the fans at Sunday's series finale plenty for their money in a 16-inning Atlantic Sun Conference marathon eventually won by FGCU, 6-3. The loss allowed the Eagles (8-7, 3-3 A-Sun) to salvage one game of the three-game series versus the Bears (13-5, 4-2 A-Sun), who won the first two meetings over the weekend.
John Moreland (2-7, 2 rbi, run) got MU on the board first in the bottom of the second with a leadoff home run, his third of the season. The Mercer firstbaseman belted an 0-1 offering from FGCU starter Jack Wagoner over the right-centerfield fence to make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Bears were again on the prowl thanks to Moreland. Thomas Carroll (2-6, run) led off the frame with a single to left and went to third on Joe Winker's (1-3, run) double down the rightfield line. Moreland followed with a slow ground out to second, advancing the runners to make it 2-0.
MU looked in control and carried the advantage all the way to the eighth inning. It was then that the Eagles clawed their way back into the game.
Mercer starter Justice French began the inning by striking out Jake Foley. The next batter – pinch-hitter Sean Dwyer – laced a single and, with a high pitch count, French was lifted. Reliever Russell Moses got one out and J.T. Odom was brought in. The senior righthander was greeted rudely with a single and then a three-run homer off the bat of Zach Maxfield to knot matters at 3-3, and a double. DJ Johnson came on to record the final out, but the damage was done.
Neither team was able to add anything to their totals until the top of the 16th when FGCU pushed across a three-spot off Bears' relievers Colby Collins and Chris Newell. Collins absorbed the loss after being charged with the first two runs of the inning.
Mercer mounted one last valiant effort in the bottom of the 16th when Jacob Tanis (2-6) walked and Carroll singled through the left side. That brought up pinch-hitter Travis Benn, who lined a 1-2 pitch right at third base and FGCU was able to double up Tanis at second.
Moreland was next up and would not let MU's efforts die, as he singled to right field with Carroll advancing to third. That brought junior catcher Jason Butts to the plate representing the tying run. Butts ended the game with a sharp liner right at the centerfielder for the final 6-3 score.
FGCU out-hit the Bears by a 15-10 margin during the 4:31 hour contest. While MU trotted out a total of eight hurlers during the game, the Eagles had Wagoner and Jacob Barnes each throw six frames, with Harrison Cooney tossing the final four to earn the win.