NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Mercer baseball team's bats came alive to the tune of a season-high 14 hits in a 9-4 series finale win over Belmont on Sunday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park.
Senior Michael Massi was one of five Mercer (10-2) players to record multi-day performances in the win, going 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and two runs scored.
For the third-straight day it would be Mercer who again jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. An RBI triple by Massi followed by an RBI single by classmate Austin Barrett pushed the Bears out to a 2-0 advantage.
After Mercer starter Eric Nyquist and Belmont starter Dan Ludwig matched zeros over the next three innings of play, the Bears extended their lead in the top of the fifth. A leadoff double by senior Nick Backlund was followed up with a sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout by junior Devin Bonin to make the score 3-0 Mercer.
With the score now 4-0, the Bears put some distance between themselves and the Bruins with a four-run top of the seventh inning. RBI singles by Barrett, freshman Kyle Lewis and senior Sasha LaGarde combined with a bases loaded hit by pitch by Backlund make the score 8-0 Mercer.
Just when it looked like Mercer would run away with the series finale victory, the Belmont bats came to life in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Bruins batted around in the frame and plated four runs of their own to make the score 8-4 in favor of Mercer.
That would be as close as Belmont would get, however, as junior Morgan Pittman concluded three shutout innings of relief with a scoreless ninth to earn his third save of the season and secure the win for the Bears.
Nyquist was strong in his start all afternoon long despite less than ideal pitching conditions. The Alpharetta, Ga. native tied his career-high by throwing six innings and allowed four runs on four hits while striking out a career-high five batters to earn his team-high third win of the season.
Backlund went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and tied his career-high with two doubles in the victory.
Mercer is back in action on March 4, when it travels to Tallahassee for a two-game mid-week series at Florida A&M.