JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 17, 2014) – Mercer right-hander Eric Nyquist allowed one run in seven innings, while Nick Backlund and Derrick Workman both belted home runs as the Bears spoiled ETSU’s Senior Day by defeating the Bucs, 8-1, on Saturday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Despite Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) hitting his 13th home run in the final home game of his career, the Buccaneer bullpen couldn’t hold down a potent Mercer offense as the Bears rallied for eight unanswered runs and registered 17 hits on the day.
Meanwhile, Freeman and Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) combined for four of ETSU’s six hits as they both tallied two-hit games, but Mercer’s pitchers held the Blue and Gold scoreless for the final five innings of the game.
Nyquist earned the win (8-1) after holding ETSU to the one run on three hits while striking out five, and Dimitri Kourtis tossed the final two innings of scoreless ball. Senior Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) suffered his first loss of the season (3-1) after being charged with two runs on eight hits and struck out a career-high six hitters in five innings of work. Unfortunately, the Buccaneer bullpen issued six runs on eight hits in the final four innings.
Following the loss, ETSU finished the regular season at 26-28, 13-13 in A-Sun play, and the Bucs received the sixth seed in next week’s conference championship. Mercer snapped its four-game conference losing skid and moved to 38-15, 18-9. The Bears earned the No. 2 seed and play No. 7 Stetson Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.
The Bucs took an early 1-0 lead when Freeman blasted his second home run of the series over the right-center wall in the fourth; however, the Bears answered the challenge by scoring at least one run in each of the final five innings to rally for the win.
Mercer got all the offense it needed by scoring two runs on four hits to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth. After Rice struck out the first two hitters he faced in the inning, the Bears responded with four consecutive two-out hits and picked up RBI singles by Sasha LaGarge and Chesny Young.
From there, Workman connected on his two-run homer in the sixth and Backlund followed suit in the seventh to extend Mercer’s lead to, 6-1. The Bears tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the seven-run victory.
Nyquist retired eight straight Buccaneer batters after serving up the long ball to Freeman in the fourth, while ETSU didn’t put a runner on second until Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) and Taylor led off the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back singles. Kourtis put a stop to any late-inning rally by retiring the next three hitters to close out the game.
Nine Mercer hitters accounted for the 17 hits as Nate Moorhouse, Kyle Lewis and Young all tallied three-hit games, while Backlund and Workman drove in four of the eight runs.
Prior to the game, head coach Tony Skole and his staff honored the Buccaneer senior class with a pregame ceremony. Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.), Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.), Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.), Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.), Brandon Wilson (Sevierville, Tenn.), Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.), Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) and Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) all played their final game at Thomas Stadium. Wilson also got his first start behind the plate in an ETSU uniform on Saturday.
The Bucs return to action Wednesday morning when ETSU takes on No. 3 seed Kennesaw State in the first game of the A-Sun Championship. First pitch is set for 10 a.m. at Florida Gulf Coast’s Swanson Stadium.
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