MACON, Ga. (March 21, 2015) – The Mercer trip has given ETSU problems in the past and the theme continued this weekend.
ETSU dropped both games of its double-header on Saturday and was swept by the Bears to open Southern Conference play. Despite plating four first-inning runs, the Bucs couldn’t hold on as Mercer took game one of the twin bill, 11-5, while the Bears capped off the sweep, 10-9, on Kyle Lewis’ walk-off home run in the nightcap.
The Bucs, who entered the weekend on a four-game win streak, moved to 11-10, 0-3, while Mercer extended its win streak to four and improved to 15-11, 3-0. Following the weekend sweep, ETSU has dropped 14 of its 18 games at Claude Smith Field in conference play.
GAME ONE RECAP
Despite scoring four first-inning runs, the ETSU baseball team couldn’t contain Mercer’s offense as the Bears outscored the Bucs, 11-1, following the top of the first and secured an 11-5 series win in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Each Mercer starter posted a hit as the Bears registered 16 for the game and were led by Kyle Lewis’ three-hit day. Lewis, Trey Truitt and Devin Bonin all homered in the comeback win for the Bears.
Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) paced ETSU as he had three of the Bucs’ 14 hits, while Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) all totaled two hits each.
After being shutout for the first time this season on Friday night, the Bucs responded with a bang as ETSU sent all nine batters to the plate in the top of the first and led, 4-0. The Blue and Gold got things rolling as Cook and York worked one-out walks and Cook scored the first run on an RBI single by Phillips. From there, Owenby singled to second and went to second on a throwing error by Bonin, which also allowed York to score from second on the play. The Bucs tacked on their third and fourth runs when Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) ripped a one-out double to left, giving Lee Haeberle (Hendersonville, Tenn.) some room to work with before taking the hill.
Unfortunately, things went downhill in a hurry as Mercer put up runs in each of the first four innings and cruised to the series win.
The Bears struck for three runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning and tacked on four more in the second to go ahead, 7-4. In the first, Mercer got a two-RBI double by Danny Edgeworth and he later scored on Nate Moorhouse’s triple to deep center, while Bonin highlighted a four-run second with a three-run home run to right-center.
Mercer’s offensive surge continued as Truitt led off the bottom of the third with a home run to center and Jackson Ware drove in a run with a double to left in the fourth, making it a 9-4 score.
ETSU finally got back on the board in the fifth as Tucker recorded his fourth infield hit of the series and later scored on Aaron Maher’s (Brentwood, Tenn.) two-out RBI single to right, but the Bears got the run back on Matt Meeder’s RBI squeeze bunt in the sixth, pushing their lead back to five, 10-5.
Kyle Lewis led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a home run to left-center to cap off the scoring, while Austin Lord and Ben Lumsden held ETSU scoreless for the final 4.1 innings out of the pen.
Haeberle took the loss (2-3) after being tagged for seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in 1.1 innings, while Mitchell Wade earned the win (1-0) after holding the Bucs scoreless for 2.2 innings out of the bullpen.
GAME TWO RECAP
Despite taking a two-run lead into the bottom of the seventh, ETSU couldn’t close things out as Kyle Lewis’ two-out walk-off home run in ninth inning capped off the series sweep for Mercer, 10-9.
In a game that featured four lead changes, 26 hits and 19 runs, it came down to one last at-bat as Lewis’ swing on a 1-1 pitch from Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) barely cleared the wall in right-center to cap off back-and-forth finale.
Both teams finished with 13 hits each, while freshman Hagen Owenby – who put ETSU ahead with a two-run double in a four-run seventh inning – finished with a career-high four hits. Jeremy Taylor and Trey York – who has now reached safely in all 21 games – both posted multi-hit games.
Mercer carried its momentum into the finale as the Bears scored three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first to grab a 3-0 lead. The Bears picked up consecutive RBI doubles by Kyle Lewis and Danny Edgeworth, while Nate Moorhouse drove in Edgeworth with a single to left.
ETSU slowly chipped away and erased its deficit as the Bucs plated runs in the second, third and fourth innings to go ahead, 5-3.
Kevin Phillips and Owenby recorded back-to-back singles to start the second inning and Daniel Tucker’s sacrifice fly to center brought home Phillips. In the third, Taylor ripped a one-out double to the gap in left-center and he trotted home on Chris Cook’s RBI single to right. Cook, who moved up on the play after Trey Truitt had trouble fielding the ball, scored on Trey York’s RBI single to center. From there, Owenby led off the fourth with a single, moved to second on a sac-bunt by Danny Carrier (Cincinnati, Ohio) and eventually scored the go-ahead run on Jordan Sanford’s squeeze play down the first base line. Following the bunt, freshman catcher Doug McFarland (Mohnton, Pa.) provided the Bucs with his first collegiate hit – an RBI single to center – allowing Tucker to score from second on the play.
However, the Bears scratched across two runs in the fourth and fifth innings to regain a 7-5 lead.
Jose Hernandez worked a walk to start the fourth and came around to score on Lewis’ RBI single to center, while a bases loaded walk by Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) allowed the tying run to touch the dish. In the fifth, Jackson Ware led off with a walk and scored on Truitt’s double to left-center, while he later touched home on a squeeze play by Matt Meeder.
The seesaw game continued as ETSU pushed across four runs in the top of the seventh to go back ahead, 9-7. The first five Buccaneer batters reached to start the inning as Taylor led things off with a single to right-center and sprinted home on York’s RBI single to left. Phillips continued the hit parade as his double down the left field line brought in Cook – who reached via a walk – and Owenby finished the scoring when his fourth hit of the afternoon scored Phillips and York.
Unfortunately, Mercer would score three unanswered runs – led by Hernandez and Lewis – in the final three innings to record the sweep.
Hernandez led off the seventh with a home run to right-center, while he came through again in the eighth to tie it nine. Following a one-out fielding error by York at second, Cate induced Ware into an infield pop up, which would’ve ended the inning; however, on the next at-bat Hernandez sent one to the right-center gap for an RBI double.
Despite striking out the first two hitters he faced in the ninth, Cate couldn’t extend the game into extras as Lewis belted his team-leading ninth home run of the season to end the game.
Cate suffered the loss (2-2) as he allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, while striking out six in 2.2 innings. Morgan Pittman tossed three scoreless innings to earn his second win (2-0) of the season.
Lewis finished with three hits, scored two runs and drove in three for Mercer.
The Bucs wrap up their road swing next week as ETSU plays at Radford Tuesday night (6p), before closing things out at Virginia Tech on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
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