HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The No. 28 Mercer baseball team clinched at least a share of the Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Title following a gritty 9-5 comeback win over Northern Kentucky on Friday afternoon at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex.
Mercer (41-14, 19-7 A-Sun) is now a game and a half up on North Florida with the Ospreys still to play contests tonight and tomorrow afternoon. If the Bears win tomorrow against Northern Kentucky or if UNF loses one of their last two games, Mercer will win the A-Sun Regular Season Title outright and earn the No. 1 seed heading into next week's A-Sun Tournament.
Things didn't start off great for the Bears early on, as Northern Kentucky lit up the scoreboard first in the top of the first against Mercer starter Grant Papelian. An RBI double by freshman Logan Spurlin brought home the first run of the game to give the Norse a 1-0 lead.
With the score now 3-0 NKU in the bottom of the fifth, the home team added to its lead when freshman Cody Kuzniczci blooped an RBI single to right field to make the score 4-0.
Mercer finally jumped on the board in the top of the sixth inning with a five-run rally. Senior Logan Gaines started the run with a two-run home run to left field and junior Sasha LaGarde finished the surge with an RBI single to center to give the Bears their first lead of the day at 5-4.
The Norse didn't fold, however, tying the game back up with a run in the bottom half of the sixth to tie things up at 5-5.
That is the way things would stay until the top of the ninth when a lead-off single by senior Evan Boyd and a sacrifice bunt set the stage for sophomore Chesny Young. The Atlanta, Ga. native, who was 0-for-3 thus far in the game, slapped an RBI single up the middle to put Mercer back in front 6-5. The hit not only gave the Bears the lead, it also extended his personal hitting streak up to a career-long 24 games.
Following the RBI single by Young, severe weather moved into the area forcing an hour and 50 minute long delay in action. When play resumed, Mercer kept the momentum going on offense with a two-RBI double by junior Austin Barrett and a suicide squeeze bunt by Gaines to push three more runs across to make the score 9-5.
Sophomore Dimitri Kourtis did the rest from there, throwing his second-straight scoreless inning of relief in the game to pick up the win and improve his record up to 5-1 in 2013.
Junior Derrick Workman led the Bears 12-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored in the win.
Mercer concludes its 2013 regular season schedule tomorrow afternoon with the third and final game of its series against Northern Kentucky. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Bill Aker Baseball Complex.