MACON, Ga. – With the bases loaded in extra innings, sophomore Chesny Young rose to the occasion by smacking a walk-off RBI single up the middle to give Mercer a 4-3 series clinching win over No. 24 Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday afternoon at Claude Smith Field.
Mercer (28-10, 9-5 A-Sun) moves its sterling home record up to 15-3 with Saturday's win and is also now a perfect 4-0 in extra-inning games thus far in 2013.
"I thought the first two games of this series have been spectacular and I think there are two pretty evenly matched clubs out there which is why we were both picked at the top of the league," head coach Craig Gibson said. "Chesny came up with a big hit today to win this one for us, but overall we played great defense and got the timely hitting when we needed it. Like I said, two very evenly matched clubs out there and two great games so far this weekend and we expect another quality game tomorrow."
The Bears continue to rack up the quality wins, as they are now 5-1 against top-50 ratings percentage index (RPI) clubs this season, and are currently the owners of the highest RPI (No. 21) of any non-BCS school in the country.
After Mercer starter DJ Johnson gave up a run on an RBI groundout in the first, both he and FGCU starter Michael Murray turned the contest into an old-fashion pitching duel. Neither squad managed to register a run until a hectic sixth inning.
Following another RBI groundout by the Eagles to give the visitors a 2-0 lead, Mercer started its comeback with the first of several clutch hits in the contest. With runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth, senior David Reid-Foley laced a two-RBI single up the middle to tie things up at 2-2.
The Bears took their first lead of the contest thanks to an RBI single by junior Nick Backlund in the seventh, but FGCU managed to come up with a quick answer after yet another RBI groundout in the eighth to tie the game up once again, at 3-3.
In a battle between two of the best relievers in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Mercer's Dimitri Kourtis and FGCU's Harrison Cooney kept both clubs offenses guessing until the Bears finally broke through in the bottom of the 10th.
After a fielder's choice by senior Evan Boyd, a double by freshman Joe Koehler and an intentional walk to junior Sasha LaGarde, Young sent the home crowd into a frenzy when he crushed a 2-2 pitch from Cooney right back up the middle to give the Bears a 4-3 walk-off win.
Kourtis picked up the win, his second this week, after throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to close out the game.
Reid-Foley had arguably his best game of the season in the win, tying his career-high with three hits to go along with two RBI.
Johnson earned a no-decision after giving Mercer yet another quality start, going 5.1 innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits to go along with four strikeouts.
Mercer tries to go for the three-game sweep of FGCU tomorrow morning. Due to impending weather moving into the area, tomorrow's first pitch has been moved from 1 p.m. up to 10 a.m. at Claude Smith Field.