SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Mercer baseball team exploded for six runs in the fifth inning to pull away for an 8-5 win against in-state rival Savannah State on Tuesday evening at Tiger Field.
The win was head coach Craig Gibson's 250th of his nine-year career with the Bears. Gibson is one just three head coaches to tally at least 250 career wins in the 64-year modern history of the Mercer baseball program.
Mercer (11-3) won its fifth-straight contest against Savannah State (3-9) and is tied for fourth in the nation with its 11 total wins so far this season.
After Bears starter Dimitri Kourtis and Tigers starter Tommy Freeman matched zeros over the first three innings, sophomore Nick Backlund got Mercer on the scoreboard first in the top of the fourth. The San Jose, Ca. native crushed a solo home run, his Atlantic Sun leading sixth of the season, to give the Orange and Black an early 1-0 advantage.
Savannah State would come right back in the bottom half of the frame with a three-run rally. A suicide squeeze bunt by senior Julius Green capped the scoring and made the score 3-1 in favor of the home team.
Mercer retaliated with a huge inning of its own, plating six runs in the top of the fifth. A two-RBI double by junior Logan Gaines highlighted the barrage to give the Orange and Black a 7-3 lead.
That would be more than enough offense for the Bears pitching staff, as the combination of freshmen Grant Papelian, Morgan Pittman, Eric Nyquist, Ben Lumsden, senior Jacob Matthews and junior David Teasley combined to allow just two more runs over the final five innings of play.
Backlund finished 3-for-5 with two RBI while junior David Reid-Foley also collected three hits and a run scored in the win.
Mercer wraps up its eight-game road trip when it travels to Mississippi State for a three-game series this weekend. Game one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Dudy Noble Field.