Bears Scrap Out 2-1 Win On Day One of A-Sun Tournament
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two statistics stood out in No. 5 Mercer's 2-1 victory against No. 4 Campbell on Wednesday afternoon; the opening day of the 2011 Atlantic Sun Softball Championship.
The Bears' offense generated 12 hits in the game, but perhaps the more staggering statistic was the Mercer left 13 runners on base. No matter the statistics, the only numbers that matter are the two runs the Orange and Black were able to plate in a nail-biter of a game.
The Bears out hit the Camels 12-5 in the game, scoring a run in the first and then getting a clutch RBI single from Tiffany Phillips coming with two outs in the top of the seventh to secure the win. Mercer will look to continue their five-game winning streak against No. 1 Jacksonville in the second round tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.
MU immediately put the pressure on Campbell in the top of the first as senior Amanda Santa Maria singled and then quickly advanced to third when junior Kassie Bailey roped a doubled to left center. Sophomore Sarah Santana was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and put Campbell starter Christina Melton into a jam.
Junion Kristin Marko came to the plate and connected on the first of her three hits on the day, a single to right field that scored the run from third. Mercer took the early 1-0 lead, and set the tone of the ballgame.
Mercer starter Kari Chambers looked strong inside the circle for the Bears allowing just one hit through three innings of work. However, in the fourth Chambers allowed a leadoff double to Campbell's Amanda Miller and was relieved by fellow senior Jenni Holtz.
Playing just one game on the day gave head coach Mike Raynor the ability to be generous to his pitching staff and was fully confident of Holtz's ability to work out the inning. Holtz did allow the tying run to Campbell's next batter Lauren Stephan, who hit an RBI single back up the middle.
Holtz settled in and retired the final three Camel batters to leave the game tied at one after four innings.
In the top half of the fifth, Mercer was again able to load the bases with one out. Campbell's second pitcher of the day Olivia Scarborough, replaced Melton after she was hit by a line drive by Randi Rea in the second inning and Scarborough was able to get out of the inning.
Holtz then limited the Camels to just two more hits and did a good job of maintaining the tied ball game. Heading into the seventh, the Bears carried a 1-5 overall record this season in games that were tied after six.
Kassie Bailey led off the inning by drawing a walk and represented the go-ahead run. Santana advanced Bailey to second after laying down a well-placed sacrifice bunt and with one out the Bears had a runner in scoring position. Next up was Kristin Marko who completed her perfect day at the plate dropping in her third single of day to put runners on the corner with one out.
After Sara Stukes popped out to short, the Bears were down to their final out and had Tiffany Phillips coming to the dish. Phillips came into her final at bat 0-for-3, but made up for her struggles as she lined a single to center field that allowed Bailey to score from third.
From there, Holtz took control and retired the side and gave the Bears their first conference tournament win against Campbell. Mercer was 0-4 against the Camels coming into today.
Holtz moved her record to 12-11 on the year and the Bears now face No. 1 Jacksonville in the winner's bracket tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. from Cyrill Stadium.