DELAND, Fla. – The Mercer baseball team's late inning rally fell just short in a 4-3 Atlantic Sun loss to No. 30 Stetson on Friday evening at Melching Field.
Stetson moves to 14-4 overall and 3-1 in the A-Sun with the win, while Mercer falls to 14-6 on the season and 4-3 in conference play in defeat.
The Bears got things started right away in the top of the first with some clutch two-out hitting. Junior Jacob Tanis pulled a single through the left side, advanced to second on an errant pick-off attempt by Stetson starter Lindsey Caughel and scored on an RBI single by senior Thomas Carroll to make the score 1-0.
The Hatters bounced right back in the bottom half of the frame against Mercer starter Matt McCall with a sacrifice fly by junior Ben Carhart to tie the game back up, at 1-1.
Stetson jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second when senior Jeff Simpson singled up the middle off McCall to take its first lead of the game.
After the quick start offensively, both starters eventually settled down matching zeros over the next two innings.
The Stetson offense came back to life in the bottom of the fifth, however, putting its first two batters on base to knock McCall out of the contest. Sophomore David Teasley came in to relieve McCall and worked out of the jam to keep the score 2-1.
McCall's final line included four innings pitched, two earned runs on six hits and one strikeout.
The home team once again threatened in the bottom of the sixth against Teasley when sophomore Mitchell Brennan and junior Robert Crews both hit RBI singles to make the score 4-1 Stetson.
Mercer began to fight its way back in the top of the seventh when it placed its first three batters of the inning on base to knock Caughel out of the game. Junior Matthew Black followed up with an RBI single and Burns collected an RBI on a fielder's choice to pull Mercer within one, at 4-3.
That would be as close as the Bears got, however, as freshman Cameron Griffin worked a scoreless eighth and Powell worked around a lead-off double by freshman Austin Barrett in the ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.
Caughel picked up the win for Stetson after allowing two earned runs on five hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Simpson paced the Hatters from his lead-off spot in the order, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the win.
Mercer is back in action on Saturday evening for game two of the three-game series against Stetson. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at Melching Field.