GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 24 Mercer baseball team scored four two-out runs on its way to an impressive 4-2 win over No. 4 Florida on Tuesday evening in front of 2,722 fans at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium.
Mercer (35-11) is now 8-1 in its last nine contests against ranked foes and secured its first win over a top-five team since downing No. 2 Miami 8-5 on February 3, 2007.
The Bears are also a perfect 6-0 against ratings percentage index (RPI) top-50 clubs in 2014 which includes tonight's win over Florida (No. 2), a pair of wins over Georgia Tech (No. 31) and three wins over High Point (No. 50).
After both teams failed to score or even register a hit over the first three innings of play, Mercer jumped on the board in the top of the fourth. Following a lead-off single by senior Sasha LaGarde and a walk by junior Chesny Young, freshman Charlie Madden came through with a two-out RBI single up the middle to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Mercer benefitted from more clutch hitting in the top of the fifth as LaGarde lifted a two-out RBI single to center field to plate junior Devin Bonin and make the score 2-0 Bears.
Florida seemed poised with an answer in the bottom half of the fifth as it had runners on 2nd and 3rd base with just one out, but junior Grant Papelian used a line-out and a strikeout to end the rally and keep Mercer in front 2-0.
The Gators eventually jumped on the board by manufacturing a run in the bottom of the sixth. A lead-off single, a stolen base and an RBI groundout by Taylor Gushue made the score 2-1 Mercer.
Mercer resorted to what it had been doing well all night long for the knockout punch in the top of the seventh inning. A lead-off walk to freshman Danny Edgeworth was followed up by a two-out two-run home run by senior Michael Massi to push the Bears out to a 4-1 advantage.
With the score now 4-2, the Gators once again had a threat brewing with runners on second and third base with just one out, but junior Dimitri Kourtis wiggled out of the jam by inducing a pop-out and a fly-out to close out the Bears win for his third save of the season.
Senior Brandon Barker started the contest for Mercer and threw three scoreless pre-determined innings to earn the win, the 20th victory of his career.
LaGarde, Bonin and Madden all had multi-hit performances to pace the Bears line-up while senior Derrick Workman went 1-for-4 with a single to tie the Mercer all-time hits record with 264 career base knocks.
Mercer is back in action on May 9 when it returns to Atlantic Sun Conference play with a three-game weekend series against Stetson.