MACON, Ga. – The Mercer baseball team's late comeback attempt came up just short in a 4-1 loss to East Tennessee State on Senior Day at Claude Smith Field on Saturday afternoon.
Even though the loss ended the Bears seven-game winning streak, there was still plenty to celebrate as the coaches and parents honored this year's senior class. Catcher Jason Butts, pitchers Chris Newell, Russell Moses, J.T. Odom and Justice French, first baseman John Moreland and outfielders Joe Winker and Thomas Carroll all played their final home game of their respective careers.
Mercer finished the regular season with a 36-18 overall record and a 17-12 mark in Atlantic Sun play. The Bears won 12 of their final 15 games to cap off their regular season and once again played strong at home, finishing with a 20-9 mark at Claude Smith Field in 2011.
As for the game on Saturday afternoon, Newell got the starting nod on the bump for the Bears and didn't disappoint. The Kennesaw, Ga. native was solid allowing just two runs, on a pair of sacrifice flies, on four hits in five innings pitched.
The story, however, was ETSU starting pitcher Bo Burton. Burton held Mercer scoreless through eight innings of play, using his unique side armed delivery and off speed pitches to keep Mercer off balance all day long.
Facing a 4-0 deficit going into the bottom of the ninth, the Orange and Black began to show some life at the plate against Burton. A single by freshman DJ Johnson and an RBI double by Butts made the score 4-1 and chased Burton from the ball game. After junior Billy Burns walked, Winker came up to bat representing the tying run but flied out to the warning track in left field to end the game.
Butts, Carroll, Johnson and Burns each had two hits apiece in a losing effort.
Mercer now looks forward to the A-Sun Championship next week on the campus of Lipscomb University. The Bears open the tournament as the No. 4 seed and take on No. 3 seeded Kennesaw State on May 25, at 8 p.m. ET in the opening round of play. Check back to www.mercerbears.com for full tournament coverage throughout next week.