Mercer Uses Long Ball to Edge Georgia State, 6-5
MACON, Ga. – The Mercer baseball team tied its season-high with three home runs to end the home portion of its 2014 season on a high note following a 6-5 win over Georgia State on Tuesday evening at Claude Smith Field.
Mercer (37-13) finished the season with a 6-2 record against in-state foes and a 24-4 record at Claude Smith Field. The Bears' .857 home winning percentage in 2014 is the sixth-best in the nation trailing only Virginia, Cal Poly, South Carolina, Texas and UNLV.
The Bears' win on Tuesday night was also key for ratings percentage index (RPI) purposes as Mercer's RPI moved up to No. 27 in the nation following the victory.
Georgia State (24-29) started the scoring in the contest in the top of the first when Chase Raffield yanked a solo home run over the wall in right field to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
Mercer responded quickly, however, using an RBI single by Backlund in the bottom half of the first to tie things up at 1-1.
The Bears distanced themselves from the Panthers a little bit with a three-run bottom of the second to chase Georgia State starter Wayne Wages from the contest. An RBI single by senior Sasha LaGarde and a two-run home run by Young, his fourth long ball of the season, made the score 4-1 Mercer.
With the score now 4-2, Mercer flexed its muscles with two more home runs in the bottom of the seventh. Solo home runs by Backlund and senior Derrick Workman pushed the Bears out to a 6-2 advantage.
Georgia State made it interesting late, using two home runs of its own to make the score 6-5, but junior Dimitri Kourtis pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win and his fifth save of the season.
Freshman Ryan Askew earned the win for Mercer after getting the starting nod and allowing just two earned runs on five hits in five innings pitched.
Backlund's solo home run in the seventh was the 35th of his career, moving him into a tie for the fifth-most home runs amongst all active players in the nation and just one long ball away from breaking into the top-28 all-time in Atlantic Sun Conference history.
Mercer concludes its 2014 regular season schedule with a three-game series at East Tennessee State starting on May 15 at Thomas Stadium.