Macon, Ga. (May 17, 2007) - Mercer scored 17 runs in the first two innings Thursday night, and though ETSU's bats finally woke up, it was not in time to undo the damage as the Bears cruised to a 23-15 series-opening victory at Claude Smith Field.
Senior Justin Aughey (Davie, Fla.) staked the Bucs to a 1-0 first inning lead with his seventh home run of the season, a line shot over the wall in left center field, but Mercer erased the deficit in short order.
After freshman starter Drew Story (Jefferson City, Tenn.) struck out the first batter he faced, the Bears pounded out nine runs on eight hits, aided by a pair of three run homers from right fielder Tyler Brown and center fielder Eric Renfroe.
The Bears (30-23, 15-10 A-Sun) tacked on eight more runs in the second, chasing Story and pounding out seven more hits.
In all, the Bears sent 24 batters to the plate and scored 17 runs on 15 hits through the first two innings.
Aughey belted his second home run of the day in the third, a two-run blast to the same spot as his first homer that cut the lead to 17-3.
After Mercer scored four more runs in the fourth, the Bucs (26-27, 11-14 A-Sun) plated nine runs of their own on six hits in the fifth inning, cutting an 18-run deficit to nine. The Bucs sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and moved largely station-to-station after Mercer starter Brantley New sandwiched a pair of walks around a single by freshman Justin Tramble (Marietta, Ga.) to load the bases. Sophomore Jacob Fabry (Chattanooga, Tenn.) provided the big hit, bringing the inning's final two runs home with a two-out double to center field.
Senior Michael Courtney (Knoxville, Tenn.) hit his first home run of the season in the seventh, a two-run blast that capped the Bucs' string of 11 unanswered runs.
New picked up the win, striking out four on the night and improving to 6-3. Story fell to 2-5 after allowing 11 runs in one-plus innings of work. Sophomore Michael Dillow (Gray, Tenn.) was a bright spot for the Buccaneer staff, throwing three scoreless innings before allowing a pair of runs in the eighth inning.
Aughey finished the night 2-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBI, while Fabry was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI, pacing the Bucs' 16-hit attack. Eight of the nine Buccaneer starters collected hits on the night, five of those being multiple-hit performances.
The two teams square off again Friday afternoon in a series-ending doubleheader at Claude Smith Field. First pitch for game one is set for 12 p.m.