MACON, Ga. – A combination of early offense and some tremendous starting pitching carried the Mercer baseball team to an 11-2 win over USC Upstate in the first round of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Championship on Wednesday afternoon at Melching Field.
Mercer (38-19) out-hit USC Upstate (33-19) 14-5 to capture its fourth-straight win over the Spartans in less than a week.
The 11-2 win is Mercer's biggest margin of victory in an A-Sun Championship game since 1983, when it had three wins with a 12-run margin of victory of higher.
Mercer wasted no time jumping all over USC Upstate starter David Roseboom in the top of the first inning. The first three Bears reached base off Roseboom, the last of which coming in the form of an RBI single by redshirt sophomore Nick Backlund to give Mercer an early 1-0 lead.
The Bears continued to be aggressive against Roseboom, tacking on four more runs in the top of the second. Back-to-back RBI singles by freshman Chesny Young and sophomore Nate Moorhouse, a sacrifice fly by redshirt sophomore Austin Barrett and a wild pitch made the score 5-0 Mercer.
After a couple scoreless innings by Mercer starter Brandon Love, the Bears offense went back to work in the top of the fourth. A two-RBI single by junior Travis Benn and a bases loaded walk by junior David Reid-Foley increased the Orange and Black's advantage to 8-0.
Love did the rest from there, looking absolutely dominant on the mound for the Bears over seven near perfect innings of work. The Augusta, Ga. native threw 113 pitches on the day and allowed only one run on four hits to go along with three strikeouts.
Five Bears hitters had multi-hit performances in the contest led by Backlund, who went 4-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Mercer will now play the winner of tonight's game between No. 3 Kennesaw State and No. 4 FGCU on Thursday evening. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Melching Field.