JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite blowing a lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mercer baseball team kept grinding and almost four hours later pulled out a huge 3-2 series opening win over Jacksonville on Friday evening at John Sessions Stadium.
Mercer (27-18, 8-11 A-Sun) used six pitchers to end a two-game Atlantic Sun Conference losing streak and remain just percentage points behind Florida Gulf Coast for sixth place in the league standings with the win.
After starting pitchers Brandon Love and Chris Anderson matched zeros on the mound over the first three innings of play, Mercer broke into the scoring column first in the top of the fourth. Back-to-back singles by juniors Travis Benn and Logan Gaines and a wild pitch by Anderson allowed Benn to score and give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Jacksonville closed the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh thanks to RBI single by junior Dan Gulbransen. The Dolphins threatened for more, but junior David Teasley come on in relief of Love and got his man to pop up with runners on second and third to end the threat.
The Dolphins wouldn't go down easily, however, coming all the way back to tie the game up at 2-2. An RBI single by junior Adam Brett Walker brought in the tying run. Jacksonville had a chance to win it in regulation, but senior Jacob Matthews came on and retired the final two batters of the inning to send the contest into extra innings.
After both teams failed to score in the 10th and 11th innings, Mercer finally broke through with a run in the top of the 12th. Sophomore Nate Moorhouse reached with a single and came all the way around after a sacrifice bunt and a Dolphins error to give the Bears a 3-2 lead.
There would be no comeback for Jacksonville this time around, as freshman Eric Nyquist finished off his relief appearance by pitching a one-two-three bottom of the 12th inning to pick up his second win of the season.
Love took home a tough no decision in the contest after allowing one earned run on eight hits in 6.2 innings pitched.
Mercer continues its three-game weekend series with Jacksonville tomorrow afternoon. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium.