SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After over seven hours on the diamond, the No. 23 Mercer baseball team used a dominant offensive attack to grind out a road doubleheader sweep of USC Upstate on Friday evening at Harley Park.
Mercer (35-12, 14-6 A-Sun) won game one 7-3 and captured game two of its doubleheader 12-5 to move into sixth-place in the nation in total wins with 35 thus far in 2013.
In game one, Mercer's Brandon Barker and USC Upstate's Brandon Lee matched up against each other in an old fashion pitchers' duel. Through the first five innings of play, RBI singles by Austin Barrett and Luke Weber accounted for all the scoring in the contest.
The Bears broke up the 1-1 game in the top of the sixth with a five-run inning, started off by a lead-off triple by junior Sasha LaGarde. Following the LaGarde triple, an RBI single by junior Derrick Workman and a pair of two-RBI singles by Barrett and senior Logan Gaines gave Mercer a 6-1 lead.
That would be plenty of run support for Barker, who worked six innings in the game and allowed just one run on six hits while striking out five to move his record up to a perfect 6-0 this season.
Game two saw USC Upstate get off to a quick start against Mercer starting pitcher David Randall. RBI singles by junior Luke Weber and senior Tyler Miller and a passed ball saw the Spartans jump out to a 3-0 lead through two innings of play.
Randall's tough luck night continued in the bottom of the third when the Spartans collected their third bloop hit of the game to score another run and make the score 4-0.
The Bears finally got on the board against USC Upstate starter David Roseboom in the top of the fourth after an RBI single by Gaines made the score 4-1 Spartans.
Mercer stormed all the way back with one swing of the bat in the top of the fifth when junior Nick Backlund crushed a three-run home run, his A-Sun Conference leading 11th of the season, to tie things up at 4-4.
Seizing the momentum, Mercer took its first lead of the game in the top of the sixth courtesy of a two-RBI single by LaGarde and back-to-back RBI singles by sophomore Chesny Young and Backlund to make the score 8-4.
The Bears didn't stop there, however, scoring four more runs over the next two innings to further pad their lead. A two-RBI single by senior Travis Benn in the top of the eighth capped the surge and made the score 12-4.
That would be more than enough run support for senior David Teasley, who came on in support of Randall in the fourth. Teasley, who tied the all-time NCAA record for most appearances in a career with his outing on Friday, was absolutely brilliant in relief pitching 4.2 scoreless innings while striking out seven to earn the nightcap victory.
Several Bears had huge days at the plate including Backlund (5-for-8, four runs scored and four RBI), Gaines (5-for-8, two runs scored and three RBI) and LaGarde (3-for-9, three runs scored and three RBI).
Mercer wraps up its three-game series with USC Upstate on Saturday morning due to severe weather moving into the Spartanburg area. Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Harley Park.