Baseball sweeps High Point in season opener

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asun._r4g7940_2Even after the delay in the start of their season, the Mercer baseball team still came out victorious in their opening weekend against the High Point Panthers. The Bears’ sweep was a combined effort between their high-powered offense and their pitching staff.

In game one (5-2), Brandon Barker started on the mound allowing only two earned runs with six strikeouts in five innings. After weeks of scrimmaging against his teammates, the senior standout was more than ready to compete against the opposing team.

“It was great to be back pitching against a different team other than my own for nearly eight months, but it’s like riding a bike. After those first inning butterflies, it’s the same thing I’ve been doing all of my life,” said Barker.

While Barker earned the win for game one, Stephen Glaze earned the save after striking out the final batter of the game.

Offensively, the upperclassmen rose to the occasion for the Bears. Like Barker, senior first baseman, Nick Backlund, was also excited for some real competition.

“It felt really good to get in the box and be facing someone not on my own team. I was very comfortable and felt like I have been playing for weeks,” said Backlund.

On Saturday, Backlund hit an RBI double, while Massi led all hitters with a combined five RBI during the doubleheader.

Starting for game two (5-4), Grant Papelian pitched 4.2 innings allowing only one run on six hits. In relief of Papelian, Glaze earned the win after 1.1 innings of scoreless play.

Paving the way for the Bears offensively in game two, junior Nate Moorhouse recorded a two-run home run in the bottom of the third. After overcoming an ACL injury endured last season, the junior was fully prepared to return to his centerfield position.

“I had a little nervousness starting out, but I was just glad to be back on the field with my team,” said Moorhouse.

In game three against the panthers (4-3), junior Eric Nyquist earned the win after 5.2 innings allowing only one run on four hits. This was the first start for the junior and he was fully prepared to start his season off right.

“It felt good to start for this team. I knew I was ready and I am glad I was finally able to show everyone what I can do,” said Nyquist.

Nyquist’s classmate, Ben Lumsden, also had a solid weekend for the Bears earning the save for the final game of the series.

Also during the final game of the series, three seniors, Derrick Workman, Sasha Lagarde, and Nick Backlund, shined offensively for the Bears. While Backlund recorded a solo home run, Lagarde rocketed a two-run home run at the bottom of the fourth to secure the lead for the Bears. Workman also contributed a single and a double throughout the game.

While this is the second season in a row that the Bears went undefeated on their opening weekend, their expectations are even higher for the 2014 season.

“We expect to continue to win baseball games and we hold ourselves to an extremely high standard. As a team, we want nothing less than a championship,” said Backlund.

Mercer continues their homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 19 against Florida A&M University at Claude Smith Field. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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