DELAND, Fla. (School Release)- The No. 1 seeded Mercer baseball team jumped out to an early lead, but couldn't fend off a late East Tennessee State rally before eventually falling to the fourth-seeded Buccaneers 7-4 in day two of the Atlantic Sun Tournament on Friday afternoon at Melching Field.
With the loss, Mercer (43-15) now falls into the loser's bracket where it will take on No. 8 USC Upstate in an elimination game scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight at Melching Field.
After Mercer wasted scoring opportunities in both the second and third innings, the Bears got the big hit they were waiting for from junior Michael Massi in the bottom of the fourth. After back-to-back singles by juniors Derrick Workman and Austin Barrett and a walk to senior David Red-Foley, Massi brought them all home with a bases clearing double off the wall in left field to give Mercer a 3-0 lead.
Bears starter DJ Johnson was cruising through the first four innings, allowing only two hits until ETSU touched him up for a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. An RBI double by sophomore Chris Riopedre and an RBI single by senior Mason Hershey made the score 3-2 Mercer.
Johnson was spectacular in his outing as he worked 5.2 innings and allowed just the two runs on five hits while striking out four.
With the score 4-2 Bears in the top of the seventh inning, ETSU threatened to strike again loading the bases with just one out. Sophomore Morgan Pittman did a great job of wiggling out of the jam, however, allowing just a sacrifice fly to keep Mercer in front 4-3.
The Buccaneers kept chipping away at the Bears bullpen though and eventually pulled into a 4-4 tie with Mercer in the top of the eighth after freshman Kevin Phillips launched a solo home run over the wall in left field.
That is the way things would stay until the top of the 10th when ETSU pushed across three runs. A wild pitch and back-to-back RBI singles by seniors Derek Niesman and Alex Reynolds pushed ETSU out to the eventual 7-4 winning margin.
Massi led the Mercer offense by going 2-for-4 with a career-high two doubles and three RBI. Barrett also had a good day at the plate, going a perfect 3-for-3 with a run scored.
Young went 2-for-4 in the loss with a pair of singles to extend his hitting streak up to a career-long 27 games.