SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer designated hitter/catcher JT Thomas and ETSU right-hander Blake Smith have been named the Southern Conference player and pitcher of the week, respectively, for all games March 13-19. The selections are made by the league office.
Mercer’s Thomas hit .562 on the week, helping the Bears top Georgia in a midweek contest and sweep a three-game weekend series at No. 8 East Carolina, all on the road. He hit three home runs, slugged 1.188, scored seven runs and drove in eight. Thomas put together a .650 on-base percentage for the week.
Against the Bulldogs on Tuesday, Thomas was 1-for-5 with a walk as the Bears earned a 4-3 win in 12 innings to complete the season sweep.
The Woodstock, Georgia, junior then turned in an incredible weekend in the sweep of the Pirates, hitting .727 in the three-game set. He opened with a 4-for-4 performance in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, hitting a pair of two-run home runs and a two-run double and scoring three times in the Bears’ 10-7 win. In the second game of the day, a 7-5 Mercer win, Thomas was held hitless but was hit by a pitch twice, scoring once.
Thomas wrapped his week with another four-hit performance Sunday, stroking a solo homer and three singles in Mercer’s 8-2 win. He drove in two runs on the day and scored three as the Bears improved to 17-4 on the year and completed the sweep against a Pirate squad that had won 13 of its last 14 contests.
The weekly award is the first of Thomas’ career.
Mercer, off to its best 21-game start under coach Craig Gibson, hosts Florida A&M for a pair of midweek contests before opening league play against ETSU (11-7) on Friday.
Also nominated: Barrett Charpia (The Citadel), Hagen Owenby (ETSU), Caleb Webster (UNCG), Jordan Fucci (Samford), Jacob Jaye (VMI), Spencer Holcombe (Western Carolina) and Max McDougald (Wofford).
ETSU’s Blake Smith threw a two-hit shutout Sunday against Miami (Ohio), striking out 14 and walking just one. He faced just four batters over the minimum on the day.
After striking out the game’s first three batters, Smith saw his only trouble of the day in the second, allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter after a sacrifice bunt. The senior from Ninety Six, South Carolina, recovered with a strikeout and a groundout and was never threatened again, allowing just a third-inning walk and a sixth-inning single.
Smith retired the final 11 batters of the game in order, striking out six in that span, including fanning the side in the seventh.
Smith’s 14 strikeouts were one shy of matching the school record and doubled his previous career high of seven. He became the first Buccaneer to throw a complete-game shutout since 2013.
The weekly award is the first of Smith’s career.
ETSU is back in action this weekend at Mercer.
Also nominated: JP Sears (The Citadel), Chase Burks (Mercer), Bryce Hensley (UNCG), Mikhail Cazenave (Samford), Michael Geary (VMI), Bryan Sammons (Western Carolina) and Spencer Kulman (Wofford).
2017 SoCon Players of the Week
Feb. 20 Chris Cook, ETSU
Feb. 27 Charlie Madden, Mercer
March 6 Will Malbon, VMI
March 13 Austin Embler, UNCG
March 20 JT Thomas, Mercer
2017 SoCon Pitchers of the Week
Feb. 20 Matt Frisbee, UNCG
Feb. 27 JP Sears, The Citadel
March 6 Adam Scott, Wofford
March 13 Bryan Sammons, Western Carolina
March 20 Blake Smith, ETSU