SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Despite a nearly three-hour long rain delay, the No. 23 Mercer baseball team hung on to defeat USC Upstate 8-7 on Saturday afternoon at Harley Park.
Mercer (36-12, 15-6 A-Sun) has now swept four weekend series this season (Bethune-Cookman, Miami-Ohio, Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate), but this weekend's sweep over USC Upstate might be the most impressive due to the fact that it's the Bears first on the road in 2013.
Senior relief pitcher David Teasley recorded the final two outs in the contest to pick up the save and etch his name in the NCAA record books. With his performance against the Spartans on Saturday, Teasley passes Stetson's Tom Hickox with 152 relief appearances for the most relief outings in a career in NCAA Division I history.
The Bears wasted little time acclimating themselves with USC Upstate starting pitcher Gaither Bumgardner, scoring two runs off the tall right-hander in the top of the first inning. A bases loaded walk by junior Nick Backlund and a sacrifice fly by classmate Austin Barrett saw Mercer jump out to an early 2-0 lead.
As quickly as Mercer started, its lead didn't last long as the Spartans rallied for two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first. A two-RBI single by senior Brandon Patterson off Bears starter DJ Johnson tied things up at 2-2.
The Orange and Black kept coming offensively, pushing across two more runs in the top of the third. RBI singles by Backlund and senior David Reid-Foley gave Mercer back the lead, at 4-2.
The Bears really opened things up in the top of the fourth, chasing Bumgardner after putting up three runs in the frame. An RBI single by sophomore Chesny Young and a monster two-run home run by junior Derrick Workman, his ninth of the season, pushed Mercer out to a 7-2 advantage.
Just when it looked like Mercer was going to pull away, USC Upstate supplied a big counterpunch to put itself right back in the game. A pair of home runs by junior Brody Greer and senior Trey Richardson saw the Bears lead shrink down to 7-5.
As the rain really started to come down in Spartanburg, the Spartans came all the way back using two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game up at 7-7.
The see saw battle continued moving into the top of the seventh which featured an RBI single by senior Evan Boyd that put the Bears back in front 8-7.
After the game was delayed for nearly three hours due to rain, the duo of sophomore Dimitri Kourtis and Teasley combined to record the final six outs of the contest to secure the victory for Mercer.
Kourtis earned the win for the Bears, his fourth of the season, after working 3.1 innings of relief and allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out three.
Young had a solid day to lead an 11-hit Mercer attack by going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. With his two hits on Saturday, the Atlanta, Ga. product extended his hitting streak to a career-long 17 games.
Mercer will now enjoy a nine-day break as it returns to campus for finals all next week. The Bears return to the diamond when it welcomes Belmont to Macon for a two-game mid-week series starting on May 7.