Spartans Fall to Bears in Extra-Inning Thriller
MACON, Ga. – It took more than six-and-a-half hours to complete due to a lightning delay as well as five extra innings of free baseball before Mercer claimed a 7-6 victory over USC Upstate at Claude Smith Field.
The contest that began at 6 p.m. Thursday evening, ended Friday morning at 12:40 a.m. as Mercer scored the 13th and final run of the contest to improve to 35-19 overall and 13-12 in league play. Upstate, who maintained its first-place lead thanks to Stetson's loss to FGCU, dipped to 33-16 overall and 16-8 in the A-Sun.
After a pair of scoreless frames by both teams to open the contest, the Spartans broke through with a single run in the top of the third inning. Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) delivered a two-out RBI single through the right side allowing Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) to score the game's first run.
Mercer responded with a single run in the bottom of the frame to even the contest at one. DJ Johnson scored on Nick Backlund's RBI single to left.
The Bears took the lead in the fourth with one run on a RBI double by DJ Johnson. Derrick Workman scored from second to give the home club a 2-1 advantage.
The Spartans regained the lead with two runs in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs in the inning, Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) sent a 2-2 offering from Mercer starter Brandon Love over the wall in center field to tie the contest at two. Richardson's solo blast was his fourth homerun of the season to tie Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) for the team lead.
Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) followed with a double off of the wall in right and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Brandon Patterson (Polk City, Fla.) drew a walk and forced Mercer to make a pitching change as David Teasley replaced starter Brandon Love. Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.) drove in Miller with a RBI single through the left side, putting the Spartans in front, 3-2.
Starter David Roseboom (Pattersonville, N.Y.) surrendered two walks while recording just one out in the seventh and was replaced on the mound by Andrew Wyant (Newton, N.C.). The Bears were able to tie the game at three as Chesny Young scored on a throwing error by Liput on a potential inning-ending double play.
Roseboom, who earned a no-decision, gave up three runs (two earned) on nine hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.
The two teams posted zeros in the eighth and ninth innings to force extra innings Thursday night.
With one out in the 10th inning, Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) collected back-to-back singles and Richardson drove in Weber to give the Spartans a 4-3 advantage; Richardson advanced second and Cook moved to third on the throw home from center fielder, Derrick Workman. The Spartans were unable to push across additional runs as Guers struck out and Patterson grounded out.
The Spartans brought on closer Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) in an effort to close out the contest. Austin Barrett hit just the second homerun off of Sobotka this season as he tied the contest at four. After two strikeouts, the Mercer 10th ended when Derrick Workman was tagged out at second on a steal attempt.
Upstate, in the 11th, had a pair of base runners with just one out, but were unable to capitalize as Liput struck out and Weber flew out.
After a lead-off walk, a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt, the Bears had a runner on third base with just one out. Evan Boyd attempted to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt, but his attempt was popped up and snagged out of the air by Stampler. Nate Moorhouse was easily doubled up as he had crossed home plate by the time Stampler made the catch.
With one out in the 12th, Richardson singled through the left side and Guers followed with a four-pitch walk. In one of the crazier plays in baseball action, Guers was hit in the back of the helmet by first baseman Travis Benn. Benn's errant throw found its way into left field, allowing Richardson to score; Guers was tagged out at third on a 7-5 putout, while Patterson moved to second after reaching on a fielder's choice. Richardson's second run of the game gave the Spartans a 5-4 lead.
Mercer, like they did in the 10th, tied the contest when Chesney Young scored on Nick Backlund's RBI single to center. A throwing error by Liput allowed Mercer to move a pair of runners into scoring position and David Reid-Foley drew a walk to load the bases with one away. Sobotka recorded a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat in the 12th.
With two outs in the top of the 13th, Liput connected on his third homer of the year with a solo shot to right, giving Upstate its third lead in extra innings, this time at 6-5.
DJ Johnson tied the contest at 6-6 when he scored on Chesny Young's RBI double down the left field line. With two outs and runners on the corners, Travis Benn struck out to end the bottom of the 13th.
After the Spartans were held scoreless in the top of the 14th, Mercer loaded the bases in the home half of the 14th and DJ Johnson singled to left as he drove in the game-winning run (David Reid-Foley).
Liput and Richardson led the Spartans as the duo combined for six hits, four RBI and three runs.
DJ Johnson led Mercer with a 5-for-6 effort at the plate with two runs and two RBI.
Chris Knauff (Marietta, Ga.) was tagged with the loss and falls to 0-2 on the season. Mercer's ninth pitcher of the night, Ben Lumsden earned the win to improve to 2-0.
The two teams will return to action tomorrow afternoon with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. Junior southpaw Scott DeCecco (5-2, 3.68 ERA; Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) will get the start for the Spartans, while Mercer will likely counter with sophomore right-hander Brandon Barker (5-4, 3.22).