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Wednesday's SoCon Baseball Championship roundup
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/23/2018
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Mercer's Alex Hanson and Western Carolina's Bryson Parks
Courtesy: Carlos Morales

No. 5 seed Mercer 19, No. 4 seed VMI 0 (7 inn.)

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Jumping out to a 6-0 lead through four innings and scoring 13 runs over the sixth and seventh, No. 5 seed Mercer defeated No. 4 seed VMI 19-0 in seven innings in Wednesday’s first game of the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

Mercer (36-20) will face the winner of Wednesday’s second game between No. 9 Western Carolina and No. 1 UNCG on Thursday at 4 p.m. VMI (26-26) slides down to the loser’s side of the bracket and will face the loser of Wednesday’s second game.

Alex Hanson and Jackson Ware each recorded five hits and combined for eight RBIs in the victory. Hanson went 5-for-6 with five RBIs and a home run, while Ware had just the fourth perfect 5-for-5 in tournament history with three RBIs and three runs scored. Six different Bears recorded at least one RBI with four players driving in three or more runs.

After scoring a pair of runs in the second inning and adding another in the third, Brandon Michie launched a home run off of the scoreboard in right field that gave Mercer a commanding 5-0 lead.

The Bears, who out-hit VMI 22-3, approached the tournament record for hits in a game (24) and matched their team record for runs in a SoCon tournament game, coincidentally set against VMI in a 19-7 win over VMi in 2015. Mercer was 14-for-27 (5.19) with runners in scoring position and got multi-hit games from five different players.

Austin Cox threw six innings of two-hit ball, allowing zero runs and striking out 10 batters. The junior improves to 7-3 on the season.

All-SoCon second-team member Josh Winder of VMI got tagged with the loss, throwing 3 2/3 innings, allowing six runs and falling to 5-6 in the 2018 season.

The SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases continues with three more games to be played on Wednesday.

No. 9 seed Western Carolina 10, No. 1 seed UNCG 2

GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 9 seed Western Carolina battered Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year Matt Frisbee for six runs on eight hits in the first four innings en route to a 10-2 win over No. 1 seed UNCG at the SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

The Catamounts (9-45), who won Tuesday’s play-in game over No. 8 seed The Citadel for the right to advance to the double-elimination portion of the bracket, advance to face No. 5 seed Mercer on Thursday at 4 p.m. Regular-season champion UNCG (37-14) falls into the loser's bracket and will take on No. 4 seed VMI in an elimination game Thursday at 9 a.m.

WCU got to Frisbee early. Justin Sparks led off the second frame with a home run to left center, and after a Matthew Koehler double and a wild pitch, Caleb Robinson stroked an RBI single up the middle to double the lead.

The Catamounts got to Frisbee again in the fourth, taking advantage of three hits and a pair of errors to plate four runs, just two of which were earned. Robinson drove in the first two runs in the inning with a double off the wall in left center, Will Prater drove in a run with grounder that was misplayed at first, and Spencer Holcomb capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right.

SoCon Player of the Year Andrew Moritz spoiled the Catamounts’ shutout bid with one out in the bottom of the sixth, stroking a solo shot to right center. The Spartans added a run on Austin Embler’s RBI single in the seventh

Catamount starter Taylor Purus, who entered the contest with a 2-12 record and a 7.68 ERA, was impressive, throwing seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked one.

UNCG threatened to make it interesting in the eighth after Purus departed, loading the bases on a single, a hit batter and a walk. Western Carolina went back to the bullpen for left-hander Tristan Baker, who struck out pinch-hitter Devin Ruiz to end the threat.

Purus (3-12) got some help from his defense, with Koehler making a running catch against the Green Monster in left in the second and Bryson Parks making a pair of outstanding grabs, laying out for a catch in right center in the fifth and making a tumbling snag on the run in left center in the seventh. The Catamounts also turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the third inning.

The Catamounts had six players with multi-hit games and saw their 5-9 hitters go a combined 12-for-23 with seven RBIs and nine runs scored. Sparks and Parks had three hits each.

Moritz had the lone multi-hit game for the Spartans, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer.

Frisbee suffered his first loss of the season, falling to 10-1 after allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

Western Carolina’s win was the first for a No. 9 seed over the No. 1 since Wofford downed College of Charleston 19-6 in 2007 en route to winning the tournament. The SoCon took just eight teams from 2009-13.

The SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases continues with two more games to be played on Wednesday. No. 2 seed Samford and No. 7 seed Furman square off in the day’s third contest, followed by No. 3 seed Wofford vs. No. 6 seed ETSU to cap the evening.

May 22 (Tuesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #9 Western Carolina 6, #8 The Citadel 5             

May 23 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 2: #5 Mercer 19, #5 VMI 0 (7 inn.)                         
Game 3: #9 Western Carolina 10, #1 UNCG 2                  
Game 4: #2 Samford vs. #7 Furman                               4 p.m.
Game 5: #3 Wofford vs. #6 ETSU                                  7:30 p.m. 

May 24 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 6: #4 VMI vs. #1 UNCG                               9 a.m.
Game 7: Loser Game 4 vs. Loser Game 5                       12:30 p.m.
Game 8: #5 Mercer vs. #9 Western Carolina                         4 p.m.
Game 9: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5                   7:30 p.m.

May 25 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8                   3:30 p.m.
Game 11: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 9                   7 p.m. 

May 26 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9                 12 p.m.
Game 13: Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 11              3:30 p.m.
Game 14: Winner Game 13 vs. Loser Game 12                7 p.m. 

May 27 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 14              12 p.m.
^Game 16: Winner Game 15 vs. Loser Game 15              40 minutes after Game 15 

^ if necessary

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