Macon, Ga. (May 18, 2007) - Mercer held off a ninth inning rally in the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader with ETSU, and jumped on the Bucs early and often in game two, scoring runs in each of the first five innings and cruising for a 15-5 sweep-clinching victory at Claude Smith Field.The Bucs end the season loser of 17 of their final 19, and miss the conference tournament for the first time since 2003.
An ETSU berth in the conference tournament appeared certain after the Bucs were tied for first and off to a 10-2 start in Atlantic Sun play through four weeks of conference play, but a 1-14 finish to the conference season, including sweeps by four of their final five opponents, coupled with a late season charge from Gardner-Webb, left the Bucs on the outside-looking-in of the postseason picture for the first time in four seasons.
The Bucs (26-29, 11-16 A-Sun) trailed 4-2 entering the ninth inning of game one, but loaded the bases as Mercer's star closer Cory Gearrin struggled with his control walking one batter and hitting two more. Sophomore Jacob Fabry (Chattanooga, Tenn.) drove in one run on a one-out fielder's choice, cutting the lead to 4-3 and putting runners on the corners with two outs.ETSU attempted the double steal from there, and though Fabry slid in safely at second base, the relay back to the plate from shortstop Billy Shaughnessy was in time, cutting down sophomore Ben Allen (Kingsport, Tenn.) and ending the game.
A two-out walk and a pair of two-out hits in the third inning gave the Bucs a 1-0 lead, as senior Justin Aughey (Davie, Fla.) singled home freshman Justin Tramble (Marietta, Ga.) from second base.
The Bears (32-23, 17-10 A-Sun) erased the deficit with three fourth inning runs, and never trailed for the remainder of the series.Josh Thompson led off the fourth with his 10th home run of the season, and after ETSU starter Brandon Langston (Ringgold, Ga.) recorded consecutive outs, and infield single and a check-swing double gave Mercer runners at second and third. Shaughnessy followed with a single up the middle, scoring both runners and breaking the 1-1 tie.
Langston went the distance for the Bucs, striking out eight but still falling to 6-7 on the season.Boone Webster held the Bucs to just two runs on four hits in seven innings of work, improving to 7-5.Gearrin recorded the final four outs for his 13th save.
The Bears ripped the Bucs in the nightcap, tagging starter Caleb Glafenhein (Knoxville, Tenn.) for eight runs on eight hits through 2 2/3 innings, and posting frames of three, one, four, three and four runs scored through the first five innings.
Glafenhein took the loss, falling to 13-7 on the season. Mercer starter Blake Quarles improved to 2-3, striking out four Buccaneers and allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings of work.
Fabry finished the day with four hits and two RBI, driving in runs in both games, while Aughey also finished the day with four hits, notching and RBI in game one and a run scored in game two.