HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The No. 28 Mercer baseball team set a new program record for most wins in a single-season following a 7-4 series opening victory over Northern Kentucky on Thursday afternoon at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex.
Mercer (40-14, 18-7 A-Sun) has now won eight out of its last 10 games overall and is just the 12th team in the nation to eclipse the 40-win barrier this season.
Mercer jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning when junior Austin Barrett followed back-to-back singles by Chesny Young and Nick Backlund with a two-out two-RBI double to put the Bears up 2-0.
The Orange and Black continued to pour it in the bottom of the second after an RBI groundout by junior Sasha LaGarde and an RBI single by Young pushed Mercer out to a 4-0 advantage.
Barrett struck again in the top of the third inning when he clubbed a solo home run, his fifth long ball of the season, to give Mercer a 5-0 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning, junior Michael Massi kept the Bears offense rolling with a two-RBI single in the top of the fifth to extend Mercer's lead up to 7-0.
That would be plenty of run support for Bears ace Brandon Barker. The Woodstock, Ga. native threw 5.1 innings and allowed no runs on just three hits while striking out seven to improve his record up to 7-1 in 2013.
Northern Kentucky managed to make a game of it scoring four runs late, but sophomore Dimitri Kourtis pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning to notch his Atlantic Sun Conference leading ninth save of the season.
Young had another monster day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored to extend his hitting streak up to a career-long 23 games. Barrett also had a stellar day with the bat, going 2-for-4 with three RBI in the win.
Mercer returns to action tomorrow afternoon for game two of its series against Northern Kentucky. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bill Aker Baseball Complex.