DELAND, Fla. – The No. 1 seeded Mercer baseball team used 11 unanswered runs to rally for a 12-6 comeback win over No. 8 USC Upstate in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament on Wednesday evening at Melching Field.
With the win, Mercer (43-14) is now tied with two other teams for the most wins in a single-season of any team in the A-Sun Conference since UCF recorded 47 victories back in 2004.
USC Upstate had the run of play early on, loading the bases against junior Brandon Barker with no outs in the top of the second inning. The Woodstock, Ga. native did his job, however, allowing just one run to cross the plate to give the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.
The Spartans tacked on another run off Barker in the top of the third when junior Tyler Lesch sliced an RBI single to left field to make the score 2-0.
The Bears offense began to go to work against USC Upstate starter Chris Cox in the bottom of the third when a double by senior Travis Benn followed by a sacrifice fly by sophomore Chesny Young made the score 2-1 Spartans.
USC Upstate continued to pound out hits against Barker, however, using an RBI single by senior Jordan Stampler and a two-RBI single by junior Brody Greer to push its lead up to 5-1 over the Bears in the top of the fourth.
That would be all for Barker who struggled mightily in his outing, allowing five runs on 11 hits in just 3.2 innings of work.
Mercer kept the pressure on in the bottom half of the frame nonetheless, using a huge six-run rally to re-take the lead. Two sacrifice flies by junior Michael Massi and senior Logan Gaines, back-to-back bases loaded hit by pitches and a two-RBI single by Young pushed the Bears in front, 7-5.
The Orange and Black continued to impose their will on USC Upstate pitching in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four more runs. A pair of RBI singles by Benn and senior Evan Boyd and a two-RBI double by junior Nick Backlund made the score 11-5 Mercer.
That would plenty of run support for the Mercer bullpen, who combined to allow just one run in 5.1 innings of work. Leading the way was sophomore Ben Lumsden who threw 3.1 scoreless innings of relief while striking out four to earn the win and improve his record to 5-2 in 2013.
Benn paced the Mercer offense, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a career-high three runs scored. Young went 1-for-2 with four RBI in the contest to extend his hitting streak up to a career-long 26 games in the win.
Mercer now moves on to face No. 4 seeded East Tennessee State in the second round of the A-Sun Tournament on Thursday evening. Game time is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. at Melching Field.