MACON, Ga. – Sophomore Brandon Barker orchestrated an absolute masterpiece on the mound to help the Mercer baseball team bounce back in a big way with a 12-1 win over North Florida on Saturday evening at Claude Smith Field.
After dropping a heartbreaking 5-4 decision in the series opener, Mercer (32-19, 11-12 A-Sun) now vaults back ahead of UNF (29-22, 10-13 A-Sun) and just one game behind FGCU for sixth place in the conference standings.
The story of the evening without a doubt was Barker, who held UNF to a season-low two hits. The Woodstock, Ga. native ended up going eight innings and struck out six batters on 111 pitches to pick up his fifth win of the season.
Barker did have some help, however, as the Mercer offense scored early and often against UNF starter Kyle Westwood to pick up the win.
Junior Travis Benn hit a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first to stake the Bears to a 2-0 lead.
The Orange and Black put the game out of reach with a pair of big innings in the fourth and fifth frames. Redshirt sophomore Nick Backlund led the charge in the fourth with a two-run home run, his team-leading 16th of the season, while junior Evan Boyd highlighted the fifth with a two-RBI single to make the score 8-1.
Boyd finished the evening going 3-for-5 with a run scored while freshman Chesny Young extended his team-high hitting streak up to 17 games with a 2-for-5 showing in the win.
Mercer concludes its series with UNF tomorrow afternoon. The rubber game of the three-game set is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Claude Smith Field.