MACON, Ga. – After an almost two month hiatus from starting on the mound for the Mercer baseball team, senior David Randall make a splash in his return helping the Bears to a series opening 7-6 win over No. 24 Florida Gulf Coast on Friday evening at Claude Smith Field.
Randall broke his left pinky finger in Mercer's opening day win over Ohio State on February 15 and has been working his way back ever since. After weeks of rehab and a pair of relief appearances, the Lawrenceville, Ga. native threw 5.1 innings and allowed four earned runs while striking out three to pick up his first win of the 2013 campaign.
Mercer (27-10, 8-5 A-Sun) is now 3-1 against top-50 ratings percentage index (RPI) teams this season with tonight's win over FGCU (No. 32), Notre Dame (No. 27) and Georgia Tech (No. 16) accounting for the three top-tier victories.
Also with tonight's win, the Bears now leap frog FGCU (20-10, 6-4 A-Sun) into a tie for second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings and keep intact their perfect 9-0 record on Friday's this season.
After Randall let up a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, the Mercer offense went to work on 2013 A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Ricky Knapp over the next few frames.
An Eagles error and a two-run home run by junior Nick Backlund brought Mercer to within one of FGCU, 4-3, moving into the fourth inning.
The Bears got the big hit they need in the bottom of the fourth when junior Derrick Workman delivered a two-out two-RBI double to give Mercer its first lead of the day, at 5-4.
The bullpen would do the rest from there as sophomore Grant Papelian and senior David Teasley combined to throw 3.1 innings of relief to close out the game. Teasley was brilliant in his three innings of work, allowing only one run while striking out six to record his second save of the season.
Workman finished 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI while Backlund finished 2-for-2 with a run scored and two more RBI to push his league-leading total up to 44 in the win.
Knapp took the loss, for just the second time this season, after working 4.2 innings and allowing five earned runs to go along with four walks and five strikeouts for the Eagles.
Mercer returns to the diamond tomorrow afternoon for game two of its series against FGCU. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Claude Smith Field.