NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Mercer baseball team leaned on its starting pitching to come away with two wins over Belmont on Sunday afternoon at Shelby Park.
Mercer (11-3, 2-1 A-Sun) ran away with game one 9-0 and topped Belmont (4-8, 1-2 A-Sun) 6-2 in game two.
Pitching was once again the key for the Bears as they allowed just four runs in the entire three-game series. Over the past nine games, during which the Orange and Black have gone 8-1, the Mercer pitching staff has posted a microscopic 1.34 ERA.
Game one of the twin bill started very similar to game one of the series on Friday evening with stellar starting pitching by both teams. Mercer's Brandon Love and Belmont's Nate Woods matched zeros over the first three innings until the Bears broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth in a big way.
Seniors Thomas Carroll and Joe Winker and freshman Derrick Workman hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off Woods, all with two outs, to give the visitors an early 4-0 lead. For Winker and Workman, their long balls increased their shared team-high home run total to six on the season.
Junior Jacob Tanis continued the trend in the top of the sixth when he connected on a solo home run, his fourth of the season, to increase Mercer's lead to 5-0.
The Orange and Black continued to pour it on in the top of the eighth with another big inning thanks once again to the dynamic duo of Winker and Workman. After junior Billy Burns scored on a wild pitch, Winker and Workman put together back-to-back doubles to make the score 9-0.
That would be more than enough offensive support for Love who cruised through the Belmont lineup. The Augusta, Ga. native went eight innings and allowed just four hits to go along with five strikeouts in picking up his third win of the season.
In game two, Mercer wasted no time taking an early 1-0 lead thanks to an RBI groundout by Tanis.
The Bears increased their lead in the top of the third, scoring three runs on just one hit. A leadoff walk by junior Blaine Matthews, a single by Burns and an error allowed sophomore Evan Boyd to load the bases with no outs. Mercer proceeded to score runs via a bases loaded walk by Tanis, a wild pitch and an RBI groundout by Carroll to make the score 4-0.
Tanis increased Mercer's lead up to 5-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle to score Burns.
Belmont cut into Mercer's lead in the sixth with two RBI groundouts to move with three, at 5-2.
The Bears responded and pushed their lead back up to four runs, at 6-2, when Tanis collected another RBI, his fourth of the game, on an RBI single to score Matthews from second base.
Senior Justice French followed Love's dominant pitching performance with a solid outing of his own. The Suwanee, Ga. native went six innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits to pick up the win.
Tanis ended the afternoon going four-for-six with five RBI while Burns had three hits and scored four runs on the day.
Mercer returns to the diamond when it welcomes in-state rival and SEC member Georgia to Claude Smith Field for a game on Tuesday evening. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.