April 23, 2014
THE FLATS – Matt Gonzalez had two hits and Connor Justus’ squeeze bunt in the ninth inning tied the game at 3-3, but Mercer pulled out a 4-3 victory over Georgia Tech Wednesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium in 10 innings.
Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored twice, while A.J. Murray and Brandon Gold each had two of the Yellow Jackets’ nine hits. But Tech slipped to 25-17 overall, to 6-6 in one-run games and to 3-4 in extra innings. The Bears improved to 32-10.
Chesney Young got Mercer’s half of the 10th started with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Charlie Madden deposited the go-ahead RBI double down the left-field line to put the visitors on top for good.
Wednesday’s game was a make-up for a rained-out contest Tuesday at Mercer.
“They got the big hit with two outs and two strikes in the 10th, so you’ve got to credit Mercer,” said head coach Danny Hall. “They’ve played very well against us and beat us twice. But we had chances tonight, and I just thought we were a step behind. I think if we do the little things, we have a chance to win.”
Tech opened the scoring in the fourth as an RBI double from Gonzalez – his ACC-leading 15th two-bagger — followed by an RBI triple from Thomas Smith – the Jackets’ ACC-leading 15th three-bagger — put the hosts in front 2-0.
But Mercer answered right back in the top of the fifth, scoring three times and claiming a lead it would hold until the ninth. After two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out, Mercer plated its first run when a failed pickoff throw got away at first base. An RBI groundout from Nick Backlund tied the game, and the Bears successfully executed a double steal to score Young from third for the lead.
Gonzalez got Tech’s ninth inning started with a single through the left side and moved to scoring position with Smith’s sacrifice bunt. Murray’s single to left put runners at the corners with one out and Justus laid down a perfect bunt up the first-base line that allowed Gonzalez to score the tying run.
“We had a nice rally off a very good pitcher (Kourtis) to tie, and we just couldn’t get that extra hit to win the game, and they did,” said Hall.
Freshman lefty Ben Parr recorded his third consecutive quality start, but came away with a no decision. He tossed six innings, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts. Jonathan Roberts and Sam Clay each made scoreless appearances in relief, while Dusty Isaacs pitched the 10th and was on the hook for the loss (5-5).
Mercer reliever Dimitri Kourtis pitched the final three innings and earned the win (4-0).
Tech returns to action with a key ACC series at NC State this weekend in Raleigh. Friday’s series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. on ESPN3. Saturday’s game begins at 1 p.m. and is the ACC’s Game of the Week on the regional sports networks, including Fox Sports South.