DeLand, Fla. – Mercer scored five runs in the first two innings to gain control of the game early and went on to take an 11-2 victory over USC Upstate in the first round of the A-Sun Baseball Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Melching Field.
With the loss, Upstate will take its 33-19 record into action Thursday morning at 11:00 am against the loser of the game between No. 1 seed Belmont and No. 6 seed Stetson in the tournament's first elimination game. Upstate was 0-3 against Belmont and 2-1 against Stetson in the regular season. Mercer (38-19) advances to face the winner of the No. 3 Kennesaw State-No. 4 Florida Gulf Coast game.
Mercer jumped on top early in the game, plating a run in the top of the first off of Upstate starter David Roseboom (Pattersonville, N.Y.). Chesny Young singled to lead off the game and Nate Moorhouse walked to put runners on first and second. Nick Backlund singled to center to score Young and give the Bears a 1-0 lead. Roseboom, though, settled down and got a strikeout, fly out and strike out to end the inning and limit Mercer to just one run.
Young delivered another single in the top of the second, but this time, it was to score a run and start a big Bears inning. Mercer put runners on first and second with one out when the top of the lineup came up in Young. Young slapped a single up the middle to drive in a run. With runners on the corners, Moorhouse put down a bunt single to drive in a run and give the Bears a 3-0 lead. Mercer took a 4-0 advantage on Austin Barrett's sacrifice fly. The Bears opened a 5-0 lead when Moorhouse scored on a wild pitch after Roseboom was replaced by Ben Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.).
After a scoreless third, Mercer loaded the bases with one out in the fourth. Travis Benn singled to left to drive in a pair of runs and give the Bears a 7-0 lead. Mercer loaded the bases again, this time with two outs, when David Reid-Foley walked to score a run and give the Bears an 8-0 advantage.
Upstate attempted to get back in the game in the sixth. Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.), the A-Sun Player of the Year, doubled down the line to put runners on second and third with two outs. However, Mercer starter Brandon Love got a ground out to get out of the inning with the Bears leading, 8-0.
Upstate cracked the scoreboard in the seventh inning. Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) smacked a one-out single to start things off. Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) followed with a double to right center which scored Cook all the way from first as Upstate cut into the Bears lead, 8-1. With runners on first and third and two outs, Love got a fly out to end the inning.
However, Mercer got the run back and added to its lead in the top of the eighth. The Bears scored three runs in the inning to open an 11-1 advantage. Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) singled with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth to get Upstate within, 11-2.
Love earned the win for Mercer to improve to 7-3 on the year. He allowed one run on four Upstate hits in seven innings of work. Roseboom took the loss for Upstate and fell to 7-3.
Upstate entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and fell to No. 5 seed Mercer for the fourth-straight time within the last week. The nine-run loss was the second-worst of the season for Upstate, trailing only the 18-7 defeat at Mercer in the second game of the A-Sun doubleheader last weekend in Macon and the 11-0 loss at Charlotte on March 13.