Mercer Slides Past ETSU with Late Rally, 10-7
Mercer's Joe Winker collected three hits and hit his ninth home run as the Bears beat ETSU, 10-7. <i>Photo by Tom Bourne //</i>
Mercer's Joe Winker collected three hits and hit his ninth home run as the Bears beat ETSU, 10-7. Photo by Tom Bourne //

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mercer jumped out to a five-run lead early but had to rally late to beat ETSU, 10-7, to stand as the only unbeaten school after two days of play at the 2010 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship from Ken Dugan Field on the campus of Lipscomb University.

The Bears (35-22) surrendered six unanswered runs to the Buccaneers (31-27) between the third and sixth innings allowing ETSU to carry a 7-6 lead into the top half of the eighth inning. Evan Boyd led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Tyler McCarty tied the game with single to center field and after ETSU retired one of the nation’s top run producers, Jacob Tanis, the Bears reclaimed the lead when Thomas Carroll doubled home McCarty and Michael Langley singled in Carroll. One inning later John Moreland hit his club-leading 21st home run to right field for the final run of the game.

Read the Atlantic Sun Insider Column from Mercer's victory HERE.

The Bears and Buccaneers, the conference’s top offensive units this season wasted little time denting the plate as each team’s No. 3 hitter, Tanis and Player of the Year Paul Hoilman, added to their respective RBI totals in the first inning. Mercer re-took the lead with two runs in the second and built its lead up to 6-1 with three more runs an inning later. The Buccaneers' Chas Byrne, like the Bears' Nick DiMauro one day earlier, tied the A-Sun Championship record for hits in a single game with five. Byrne hit the first home run of his career, a solo blast, in the fourth inning.

ETSU’s Scott McNally kept the Bears’ bats at bay for the final two outs of the third inning through the seventh inning, but ultimately suffered the loss, in dropping to 5-2. J.T. Odom, Mercer’s fourth pitcher of the contest picked up the win, moving his record to 2-2.

Mercer, who has won 15 of its last 18 games, moved to 2-0 in A-Sun Championship play for the first time since 1999. That year, Jacksonville went on to claim the title as the second seed – the last A-Sun Baseball Championship won by the No. 2 seed, a trend Mercer seeks to end this week.

The Buccaneers have to turn around quickly to face FGCU at 11:00 a.m. CT on Friday in an elimination game. The Bears will face the winner of ETSU-FGCU at 7:00 p.m. CT on Friday where with a win they would play for their first A-Sun Championship since 1983 on Saturday. All the action will be broadcast, free of charge, on ASun.TV.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.