JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (School Release) - The Mercer baseball team fell victim to three big innings by the Ospreys bats and suffered a 10-4 road loss to North Florida on Saturday afternoon at Harmon Stadium.
Mercer (25-9, 7-4 A-Sun) was out-hit 18-7 on the day by North Florida (22-11, 5-3 A-Sun), but still remain in a tie with Kennesaw State for first-place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings.
Mercer wasted little time jumping on North Florida starter Nick Allbritton, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first against the right-hander. With junior Sasha LaGarde and sophomore Chesny Young on second and third, junior Nick Backlund brought them both home with a two-RBI double to make the score 2-0.
The Ospreys came back with an answer just an inning later courtesy of a three-spot in the bottom of the second. A two-RBI triple by sophomore Drew Weeks and an RBI single by freshman Kyle Brooks put UNF back up 3-2.
North Florida continued to simply put balls in play, pushing another three runs across in the bottom of the fourth on several balls that were not hit hard at all but continued to find holes in the Bears defense. Six singles, most of which either failed to leave the infield or just squirted past a Mercer defender, accounted for three UNF runs to push the home team's lead up to 6-2.
While the Ospreys were finding way to manufacture runs, Mercer had no such luck against Allbritton. After some success in the first inning, the Bears struggled against the right-hander until the top of the eighth. Following a single by Young, junior Derrick Workman deposited a fastball over the fence in right field for his team-leading eighth home run of the season to bring Mercer within two, at 6-4.
That would be as close as the Bears would get; however, as UNF scored four runs in the bottom half of the eighth and freshman Corbin Olmstead pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win for the Ospreys.
Backlund finished 2-for-4 with two RBI in the loss as he and Workman are now tied for the team lead with 40 runs driven in apiece.
Mercer wraps up its three-game series with North Florida tomorrow afternoon. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Harmon Stadium.