After an impressive week of play, the Mercer Bears baseball team now stands at 16-6 and leads the Atlantic Sun Conference after their first weekend of conference play.
Michael Massi, the second basemen, picked up his first A-Sun Player of the Week award after his stellar performance both at the plate and on the field.
“It was an honor being named player of the week, however, I’m glad it helped our team get off to a good conference start,” said Massi.
The infielder hit .571 during the week leading the bears to a 4-1 week overall including a sweep over Mercer’s in-state rival, Kennesaw State University.
Before the opening weekend of conference play, the Bears took on the Butler Bulldogs for a pair of midweek wins.
On the Tuesday night game, freshmen Matt Meeder and Kyle Lewis stepped up offensively for the Bears. The score was tied 2-2 until the bottom of the ninth when Meeder bunted the ball to the first basemen who mishandled the ball.
On the second day of play, freshmen Austin Lord shined for the Bears on the mound. He pitched seven full innings with three strikeouts.
The Mercer bats supported Lord’s efforts and the Bears won the game 5-0.
In the opening game of conference play, the Bears fell to the Kennesaw State 2-1. Freshman Ryan Askew earned the loss after pitching seven innings and allowing only one earned run.
Offensively, Massi was the impressive force against the Owls, going 3-3 at the plate and reaching base four separate times.
Although the Bears dropped the season conference opener, they came out alive on Saturday to the take the series against the owls. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Bears have taken the series from KSU.
At the plate, senior first baseman Nick Backlund and senior centerfielder Sasha Lagarde both had impressive appearances to lead the Bears for the sweep.
In game two of the series, Backlund launched a grand slam at the bottom of the fourth to ensure the lead for the rest of the game.
The bats did not stop swinging after the Bears’ first conference win. There were several home runs from the Orange and Black in the third game of the series, including Sasha Lagarde’s three-run walk-off home run at the bottom of the ninth to take the series. Lagarde was greeted by his fellow teammates at home plate as they celebrated the dramatic finish.
“Our team morale is very high after winning a hard fought rivalry series against Kennesaw,” said Massi, “We want to build on this and carry this momentum through the rest of our conference games.”
For their second conference series, the Bears will take on the Jacksonville Dolphins.
“Jacksonville will be a good test for us. We plan on putting all three components of the game (hitting, pitching, defense) together and get our first series road win,” said Massi.
In the 2013 series, the Mercer Bears went 2-1 with the Dolphins at Claude Smith Field. The Bears are excited to travel to Jacksonville and compete to stay on top of the conference.