Upstate’s Chance at Regular-Season Crown Delayed another Day with Loss at Mercer
MACON, Ga. – Mercer scored 10 runs in the sixth inning en route to an 18-7 victory over USC Upstate Friday afternoon at Claude Smith Field. With the victory, the Bears improve to 36-19 overall and 14-12 in league play, while the Spartans fall to 33-17 and 16-9 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Mercer staked an early 2-0 advantage as the club scored a single run in each of the first two innings.
The Spartans scored their first run of the contest in the top of third. Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) hit his fourth homer of the season with a solo shot to right to cut the gap to one (2-1).
The Bears were able to push the lead back to two runs as DJ Johnson tallied a RBI double to left center.
Upstate tied the contest at three-all with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) and Liput scored to even the contest.
Mercer regained the lead with back-to-back homeruns in the fifth as the homestanding Bears led 5-3 at the end of five innings.
In the sixth, Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) led off with a double and scored on Brandon Patterson's (Polk City, Fla.) RBI single. Patterson, who moved third on a sac bunt and a groundout, scored on a RBI single by Bumgardner. With Bumgardner on first, Liput hit his second homerun of the game to give Upstate a 7-5 lead. Liput's fifth homer of the year was of the inside-the-park variety. Liput becomes the first Spartan since Phillip Morgan to tally two homeruns in a contest (vs. North Florida, May 9, 2009).
After the Spartans took the lead, the wheels seemed to fall off for the Spartans as Mercer sent 16 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth, scoring 10 runs on eight hits to stake a 15-7 lead after six innings of play. Scott DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) was replaced in the inning and in all, the Spartans used a total of five pitchers in the frame.
Mercer added three more runs in the bottom of the seventh to push the lead to 11 runs (18-7).
Liput led the Spartans with three hits (two homeruns), three RBI and three runs. Bumgardner, Guers and Patterson also recorded multiple hits in Friday's contest. Andrew Wyant (Newton, N.C.) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on three hits and one walk in 1/3 of an inning.
DJ Johnson, for the second straight day, paced the Mercer offense. Johnson finished 5-for-5 with three RBI and two runs. Morgan Pittman earned the win after pitching just 1/3 of an inning. He gave up one run on two hits before the Bears posted 10 runs in the sixth.
The two teams will wrap-up the three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Brandon Lee (Palatka, Fla.) is slated to get the start on the hill for the Spartans in the regular-season finale. Lee is 7-3 on the year and owns a 3.79 ERA in 76.0 innings of work.