Bears Pull Away from Jacksonville for 9-4 Win
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Mercer baseball team scored six runs over the final four innings of play to secure a 9-3 win and Atlantic Sun Conference series victory over Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium.
Mercer (18-6, 4-1 A-Sun) has now won four games in a row overall and seven-straight A-Sun Conference series dating back to last season.
Senior Nick Backlund paced the Bears offense by going 3-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI.
Mercer lit up the scoreboard first in the top of the first inning against Jacksonville starter Josh Baker. Following a lead-off single by senior Sasha LaGarde and a walk to classmate Michael Massi, Backlund concluded a marathon 14-pitch at-bat with a two-RBI double to give the Bears an early 2-0 lead.
The Dolphins came right back with a answer in the bottom half of the first inning against Mercer starter Brandon Barker, using an RBI groundout and RBI single to make the score 2-2.
LaGarde continued his hot hitting in the top of the fourth inning when he ripped an RBI double down the fight field line to put Mercer back in front of Jacksonville 3-2.
Jacksonville kept hanging around, however, using another RBI groundout in the bottom of the fifth to tie things back up at 3-3.
The back-and-forth affair saw Mercer jump back in front of Jacksonville by a score of 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning courtesy of an RBI single from freshman Matt Meeder.
With the score 5-3 moving into the top of the ninth, Mercer put some distance between themselves and Jacksonville with a four-run frame. An RBI single by senior Derrick Workman, a bases loaded walk by freshman Kyle Lewis and a pair of wild pitches made the score 9-3 Bears.
Junior Grant Papelian picked up the win to improve his record up to 3-1 after throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. Junior Dimitri Kourtis recorded his first save of the season by tossing 1.1 innings and recording three strikeouts to close out the win.
Barker pitched well in his first start since sustaining a hand injury against Florida A&M on March 4, going 4.2 innings and allowing three runs on six hits to go along with four strikeouts.
LaGarde finished 2-for-5 with a run scored for his team-high 10th multi-hit game of the season while Meeder finished 2-for-3 for his second multi-hit performance of the 2014 campaign.
Mercer and Jacksonville conclude their weekend series tomorrow afternoon with a 1 p.m. first pitch scheduled at John Sessions Stadium.