June 5, 2010
ATLANTA – Mercer used 18 base hits and took advantage of three Elon errors to beat the Phoenix 13-7 to remain alive in the NCAA Baseball Atlanta Regional Saturday afternoon.
The Bears (38-23), who won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in school history, will play at 3 p.m. Sunday against the loser of Friday night’s winner’s bracket game between host Georgia Tech and Alabama. Elon (38-24), which also saw its NCAA Tournament run come to an end last year at Tech’s Russ Chandler Stadium, is eliminated from the four-team, double-elimination regional.
One day after being shut out by Georgia Tech, 10-0, in the opening round, Mercer’s bats came alive on a sticky afternoon in front of 1,025 at Russ Chandler Stadium.
“We had some guys step up offensively for us,” Mercer coach Craig Gibson said. “We were able to get out in front and get away from them a little bit with a couple of runs and hang on for that last out and survive to play tomorrow.”
Mercer was led by right-fielder Thomas Carroll, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI and a home run. Designated hitter Tyler McCarty went 4-for-5 and scored three runs. Second baseman Michael Langley was 3-for-5 and left-fielder Joe Winker was 2-for-5 with four RBI.
“It was definitely a feeling of relief to get those runs across in the first inning,” Carroll said. “We just relaxed and swung the bat from there. I was pretty relaxed when I hit the (home run).”
The Bears used six pitchers who combined to allow just six Elon hits, but walked eight batters. Freshman right-hander David Teasley (6-1) earned the win in relief while Elon’s Ken Ferrer (9-6) took the loss.
Mercer jumped on Elon early, peppering Elon’s Ferrer with four singles in the bottom of the first inning en route to three runs and a 3-0 lead.
Elon got on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning when Neal Pritchard led off the frame with a solo home run.
In the third inning, Mercer pounded out four more hits and scored three more runs before Elon could record an out. The big blow was a two-run double down the right-field line by Joe Winker.
Facing a 6-1 deficit with no one out in the third, Ferrer showed some grit, retiring the next three batters including a pair of strikeouts. Ferrer, however, was lifted in the top of the fourth when Billy Burns led off the inning with a triple.
Elon reliever Daniel Britt did not fare much better. A McCarty single scored Burns for a 7-1 Bear lead. Then, after Jacob Tanis reached base courtesy of an error, Carroll belted a three-home run for a 10-1 Mercer advantage.
The Phoenix kept it close with four runs of its own in the top of the fifth inning, thanks to the bat of Alex Swim.
Mercer starter Matt McCall loaded the bases via a pair of walks and a hit batsman and was lifted for reliever David Teasley. After Teasley got Pritchard to fly out for the second out of the inning, setting the bases-loaded scene for Swim, who belted the grand slam over the right-field wall.
Mercer went back up by a touchdown (12-5) in the bottom of the fifth, using three hits and a sac bunt. The major blow in the inning was a run-scoring double by McCarty.
The Bears upped the lead to 13-5 in the bottom of the seventh. Evan Boyd led off the inning with a single and later scored off a McCarty single and an Elon error.
Elon’s last gasp came in the top of the ninth when the Phoenix mustered a late rally, loading the bases with two outs off of Mercer reliever Scott Patterson. Swim hit a two-run single that pulled Elon to within 13-7. At that point Mercer brought in righty reliever Jacob Matthews, who got Ben Scott to ground into a game-ending fielder’s choice.