Barker Shines in 14-1 Win Over Georgia Southern
STATESBORO, Ga. – Freshman Brandon Barker threw five near-perfect innings to compliment an offensive explosion by the Mercer bats to propel the Bears to a 14-1 victory over a quality Georgia Southern club on Wednesday evening in front of 1,562 fans at JI Clements Stadium.
Mercer (22-10) out-hit Georgia Southern (18-12) 15-8 and tacked on seven extra base hits to end the Eagles seven-game home winning streak.
Five Bears had multi-hit efforts, including freshman DJ Johnson who went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Freshman Austin Barrett and senior Thomas Carroll both hit home runs for Mercer in the win.
"To go on the road and dominate a tough team like Georgia Southern from start to finish like we did tonight is pretty special," head coach Craig Gibson said. "Brandon Barker was outstanding on the mound for us tonight and offensively we got off to a good start and got away from them early."
After a scoreless first inning for both squads, Mercer went to work in the top of the second against Georgia Southern starter Drew Johnson. After the first three Bear hitters of the inning reached base, Johnson slapped an RBI single up the middle and senior Joe Winker followed suit with a two-RBI single to left-center to make the score 3-0. The Orange and Black were not done there; however, as junior Billy Burns ripped a two-RBI double to left field and later came around to score on a throwing error to increase Mercer's advantage to 6-0.
The Bears added to their lead in the top of the third when Johnson stroked another RBI single to center to score junior Matthew Black and make the score 7-0 in favor of the visitors.
Barker was the beneficiary of the early run support in his fourth start of the season and never looked back. The Woodstock, Ga. native cruised through the first four innings against the Eagles lineup, allowing no hits while striking out three.
The offensive barrage by the Bears continued in the top of the fifth when they scored four more runs in the frame. An RBI single by freshman Derrick Workman, a throwing error, an RBI double by Johnson and an RBI double by Winker stretched Mercer's lead out to an 11-0 margin.
Barker continued to shine on the mound for the Orange and Black holding Georgia Southern hitless through the first 4.1 innings of the contest before a single up the middle by freshman Garren Palmer broke up the no-hit bid. Barker got out of the inning, however, capping an incredible night on the mound. Barker's final line was five innings pitched, no runs allowed on just one hit to go along with four strikeouts to earn his third win of the season.
"We just came out with a good energy tonight and elevated our level of play after a disappointing effort last night at Georgia State," said Gibson. "It is always important to get these big mid-week games and I hope we can use tonight's win to springboard us into our huge series this weekend against Jacksonville."
Mercer returns to the diamond when it welcomes Atlantic Sun member Jacksonville into town for a three-game set. Game one of the series is scheduled for Friday evening at 6 p.m. at Claude Smith Field.