Mercer Battles Back for 6-5 Season Opening Win over Ohio State
SARASOTA, Fla. – The Mercer baseball team used a two-run rally in the ninth and an RBI single by junior Michael Massi in the top of the 10th to come away with a thrilling 6-5 season opening win over Ohio State as part of the Snowbird Baseball Classic on Friday evening in Sarasota, Fla.
Mercer (1-0) out-hit Ohio State (0-1) 10-6 and was able to pull out its first win over a Big 10 school since downing Michigan State back in 2004.
The Bears also move their record up to a sparkling 7-3 mark in season openers under 10th year head coach Craig Gibson with Friday night's win.
Ohio State jumped ahead early, scoring a run on an RBI groundout by senior Brad Hallberg to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Despite not recording a hit thus far in the ball game, the Buckeyes tacked on another run in the bottom of the second thanks to a passed ball to make the score 2-0.
After multiple failed attempts to take advantage of runners on base, the Bears finally got the clutch hit they needed in the top of the sixth inning against Ohio State starter Jaron Long.
With the bases loaded and two outs, junior Austin Barrett pulled a clutch two-RBI single through the left side of the infield to tie things up at 2-2.
The Buckeyes came right back, however, using an RBI single by sophomore Patrick Porter and a two-RBI double by senior Greg Solomon to re-take the lead, at 5-2, in the bottom half of the sixth.
Mercer had a golden opportunity with the bases loaded and only one out, but could only push one run across on a walk by junior Nick Backlund to make the score 5-3 in the top of the seventh.
The score remained 5-3 as the game moved into the top of the ninth inning and sophomore Chesny Young single-handedly made sure the Bears didn't waste any more scoring chances. With runners on first and second, the Atlanta, Ga. product ripped a double to left to score two and tie the game at 5-5.
In the top of the 10th, junior Evan Boyd led off with a single, advanced on a passed ball and came all the way around after Massi's single to score the game winning run.
Ohio State had a chance to tie the game in its final at-bats, but a perfect throw from junior Sasha LaGarde from center field to home plate nailed the Buckeye baserunner to seal the win for Mercer.
Boyd went 3-for-5 in the game with a run scored while Backlund went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Mercer has a quick turnaround as it is back on the field for game two of the Snowbird Baseball Classic against St. John's on Saturday morning. Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Ed Smith Stadium. Fans can follow the action with continuous updates on Mercer Athletics twitter page, @MercerBears.