MACON, Ga. – Senior Brandon Love threw six dynamite innings on the mound to lift the Mercer baseball team to a 7-4 series opening win over Belmont on Friday evening at Claude Smith Field.
Mercer (22-14, 5-8 A-Sun) has now won three out of its last four in A-Sun Conference play to move to within one game of sixth place in the league standings.
The Bears leaned on Love early as both teams struggled to generate any momentum at the plate. The Augusta, Ga. native didn't disappoint, allowing just one earned run over six innings of work to keep the Orange and Black in the game.
The Mercer bats finally came on in support of Love in the fifth with a three-run rally. After a bases loaded walk by junior Travis Benn made the score 2-1, sophomore Derrick Workman came to the plate and smacked a two-RBI double to right field to increase the Bears lead up to 4-1.
The game was far from over, however, as Belmont had one last rally in it down 7-1 going into the top of the ninth. The Bruins pushed across three runs in the inning and had the tying run at the plate before sophomore Brandon Barker came on and struck out the final two batters of the game to pick up his second save of the season.
Offensively, Benn finished 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI while redshirt sophomore Nick Backlund collected a game-high three hits in the win.
With tonight's win, Love also set two significant personal milestones. He recorded his 200th career strikeout and is now in sole possession of first place on the A-Sun Career Active Leaders list with 21 career wins.
Mercer continues its three-game series with Belmont tomorrow afternoon. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Claude Smith Field and can once again be heard live on your radios on Fox Sports 1670 AM.