After such a hot start to the season, the Bears baseball team hit a few rough patches in the month of March. Coach Craig Gibson and the players hope April will come with a little more success. Entering the meat of their conference play and staring down a 1-5 start, the Bears looked to compete at a high level with contests against Stetson and FGCU. The Bears did just that as they went a combined 3-3 against the Florida foes.
Stetson 4, Mercer 7
After suffering a tough sweep at the hands of Lipscomb on the road, the Bears returned to Clyde Smith Field with their sights set on a series win. Facing off against the Stetson Hatters, the Bears took game one of the series behind a spectacular outing by junior Logan Gaines. Gaines went 2-for-2 with four RBI, including his eighth home run of the season.
Stetson 7, Mercer 6
The Bears tried to follow in their tracks from game one but fell just one run short of taking a commanding two-game series lead. Trailing 7-3 in the fifth, the Bears couldn’t mount a full comeback with one in the fifth and two in the seventh. Logan Gaines did all he could with another two home runs, three RBI and three hits. Gaines homered in back-to-back at-bats in the fifth and the seventh. Mercer outhit Stetson 12-7 in the losing effort. Stetson catcher Sam Kimmel’s three-run blast in the four-run fifth proved to be the difference.
Stetson 8, Mercer 1
In the rubber match of the three-game set, the Bears offense and defense came up flat in the 8-1 trumping at the hands of the Hatters. Spraying around hits and runs in the nine-inning affair, the Hatters had their way with the Bears pitching. With the exception of the number three hitter Ben Carhart, the Hatters’ one through eight hitter each contributed one hit. Carhart had three. Batters three through seven had at least one RBI. The Bears didn’t help themselves on defense as second baseman DJ Johnson had a game to forget. Johnson committed three errors and had only two putouts.
Savannah St. 1, Mercer 5
With their brief stint with Savannah State at home sandwiched between another three-game conference series, the Bears made every at-bat and pitch count in the winning effort. As clouds hovered over, sophomore Nick Backlund made sure the Bears would hit the scoreboard before the weather-shortened game was concluded. Backlund was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBI in the game. His 10th dinger ties him for the team-lead with Logan Gaines. His RBI single in the first started the scoring and his three-run blast in the fifth ended it.
Mercer 4, FGCU 3
Traveling down to Florida for their conference meeting with FGCU, game one of the series was all about pitching. Senior Brandon Love was back to his true ace form with seven dazzling innings of one-run ball. Although each team tallied eight hits apiece, there was never more than one run scored in any inning. FGCU’s Ricky Knapp hurled 7.1 innings himself. He surrendered just five hits and two runs. Holding onto just a one-run lead in the eighth, the Bears used RBI hits in the eighth and ninth by Austin Barrett and Nick Backlund to hold off the Eagle attack.
Mercer 4, FGCU 2
Desperately needing to come up with a series win, the Bears used an array of hits from eight of the nine starters and another solid outing by Dimitri Kourtis to secure their 4-2 win. Evan Boyd and Derrick Workman each homered in the contest. On the mound, Kourtis went seven strong innings. He gave up just six hits and two runs. The three-game series win is the Bears’ first series victory since sweeping Presbyterian on Feb. 24-26.
Mercer 1, FGCU 4
Going for their first sweep of series in conference play, the Bears witnessed the difficulty of beating another team in three consecutive matches. Knotted 0-0 for the majority of the game, the Eagles crossed the plate first with a run in seventh. The Bears would answer right back with one in the eighth themselves. The Eagles would then put the game away with three runs on two hits and an error in the bottom half of the inning. Outhittiing the Eagles 6-4, FGCU had just two hits entering the bottom of the eighth in a 1-1 game.
The Bears now sit at 4-8 in conference play after going 3-3 against Stetson and FGCU. Mercer still looks forward to 15 more conference matchups to improve their position in the A-Sun standings.