MACON, Ga. – The Mercer baseball team took advantage of a season-high 12 walks and a huge night at the dish by junior Chesny Young to pull away for a 12-4 series opening win over Northern Kentucky on Thursday evening at Claude Smith Field.
Mercer (29-10, 12-4 A-Sun) moves into a three-way tie with Florida Gulf Coast and Lipscomb for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings following its win and a Bisons loss tonight.
The Bears are now a remarkable 20-2 at home this season, pulling into a tie with Ole Miss and Cal Poly for the second-best home winning percentage (.909) in the country in 2014.
Young spearheaded the Mercer offense by going 3-for-5 on the night with a double, a home run, a run scored and five RBI.
The Bears bullpen also did a stellar job on Thursday evening, recording five innings of scoreless relief. Junior Dimitri Kourtis threw three hitless innings in the ballgame and struck out three batters to earn his third win of the season.
After Northern Kentucky jumped all over Bears starter Brandon Barker to the tune of four runs over the first three innings of play, Mercer began its comeback in the bottom of the third. Following walks to seniors Sasha LaGarde and Michael Massi, Young belted a ball to right field for a three-run opposite field home run to make the score 4-3 NKU.
The Bears took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth when a two-RBI single by Young and a Northern Kentucky error made the score 6-4 in favor of the home team.
Mercer added a few more insurance runs going up against the Norse bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, utilizing a two-RBI double by LaGarde, another NKU error, a bases loaded hit by pitch and a wild pitch to score five runs in the frame and make the final score 12-4.
Massi tied his career-high with three runs scored while freshman Kyle Lewis tied his season-high with two runs scored in the win.
Weather pending, Mercer and Northern Kentucky are back in action tomorrow evening with a 6 p.m. first pitch scheduled at Claude Smith Field.