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Mercer wins twice Saturday to advance to title game
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/25/2019
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Mercer's Jackson Kelley
Courtesy: Mitch Robinson

No. 4 Mercer 11, No. 6 ETSU 7

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Fourth-seeded Mercer put two runs on the board quickly and continued to pour them on to beat sixth-seeded ETSU, 11-7, at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases. 

The Bears (32-27) set themselves up for a chance to take on Wofford for the conference title as they will battle No. 1 Samford tonight for the right to advance to Sunday’s title game. The Bucs end their season at 34-21.  

It would be Mercer who would get on the board first with Angelo DiSpigna doubling to left center with one out in the second. The next batter, Alex Crotty, would do the same, scoring DiSpigna. Trevor Austin singled through the right side later in the inning to score Crotty.

David Beam started things off for the Bucs in the bottom of the second singling to right center. Jake Lyle would follow his lead and send one through the left side to put runners on first and second. Colby Emmertz laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners and Ethan Shelton grounded out to first to send Beam across the plate. Cade Gilbert then singled to shortstop, scoring Lyle and tying up the game at 2 apiece.

The third inning proved to be a big one for the Bears. Collin Price and Crotty each smacked a home run to left field, bringing in three runs. ETSU answered with two more runs off five hits in the fourth and one more in the eighth but it wasn’t enough as Mercer would go on to score two more in the sixth and Price and DiSpigna would hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth.

Will Bowdoin walked the first two ETSU batters in the bottom of the ninth, and an Emmertz walk against reliever Andrew Kane loaded the bases for Shelton, who singled to score both Beam and Greer to bring the final score to 11-7.

Mercer’s Taylor Lobus (1-0) was credited with the win, pitching 3 1/3 innings and striking out two. Jackson Kelley recorded his first save of the season.

Colby Stuart sees his season end at 3-4 after going just 2 2/3 innings and striking out three.

Six Bucs recorded two hits apiece, while Trevor Austin paced Mercer, going 4-for-4 at the plate, driving in three. Price was 3-for-5 with two homers.

No. 1 Samford 3, No. 5 Mercer 4

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Mercer freshman reliever Jackson Kelley went 6-plus innings in his first career start and Angelo  DiSpigna had three hits to lead the fourth-seeded Bears to a 4-3 win over No. 1 seed Samford on Saturday evening at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship at Fluor Field and earn a spot in Sunday’s title game against No. 2 seed Wofford.

Mercer (33-27) is in the championship final for the fourth time in its five seasons in the league. The Bears, who won the title in 2015, avenged a loss to the Bulldogs (41-19) in last season’s title game.

Kelley (2-1), who earned his first career save in the Bears’ 11-7 win over ETSU earlier in the afternoon, returned to the mound just 44 minutes later to make his first start and turned in a gem, allowing just two hits and striking out six through the first six innings. The rookie from Marietta, Georgia, was lifted in the seventh after allowing a Sonny DiChiara home run and a bloop double, putting his final line at one run allowed on four hits.

Nick Spear took care of the rest, working around a fielding error to induce an inning-ending 5-3 double play. Spear would earn his ninth save of the season and extend his school career record to 22 with 3 innings of work, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out three.

After Jordan Ammons staked the Bears to a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the second, Mercer scored the decisive runs in a three-run fifth. Trevor Austin, who had four hits in the win over the Bucs earlier in the day, led off the inning with a triple, and Bill Knight singled up the middle to drive him in. Two outs and a hit batter later, DiSpigna doubled to right center to score Knight and Collin Price to make it 4-0.

The Bears would hang on from there, but Samford made it interesting.

DiChiara got the Bulldogs on the board in the seventh with his third homer of the tournament and 21st of the season, moving him into a tie for second-most in a season in school history. Samford plated another run in the eighth on Max Pinto’s one-out solo homer then made it a one-run game in the ninth.

Jordan Fucci and Anthony Mulrine led off the frame with consecutive singles to put runners on the corners before Ayrton Schafer plated Fucci with a groundout to third. On the next batter, Mercer second baseman Kyle Dockus made a big defensive play to snare a grounder up the middle and get the out at first, forcing pinch-runner Sam Teague to hold up at third. Spear then got a groundout from pinch-hitter Kaden Dreier to nail down the win and send the Bears back to the title tilt.

Mercer’s DiSpigna finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Knight and Austin had two hits each. For Samford, Fucci had the lone multi-hit game, as he was 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Hamp Skinner took the loss for the Bulldogs despite allowing just one run on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one. Stephen Jones, the third Samford pitcher of the evening, struck out five in 3 1/3 scoreless innings of work.

Mercer and second-seeded Wofford will square off at noon Sunday on ESPN+. The Terriers need to win just once to claim their first title since 2007, while the Bears would need to beat Wofford twice to earn the SoCon’s automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals. A second game, if necessary, would begin 40 minutes after the completion of the first.  

May 21 (Tuesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #8 Western Carolina 7, #9 The Citadel 3              


May 22 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)

 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 2: #1 Samford 5, #8 Western Carolina 4 (10 innings)           

Game 3: #4 Mercer 11, #5 Furman 2                              

Game 4: #6 ETSU 4, #3 UNCG 2                                    

Game 5: #2 Wofford 12, #7 VMI 7


May 23 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 6: #5 Furman 9, #8 Western Carolina 7                 

Game 7: #3 UNCG 4, #7 VMI 2                                      
Game 8: #1 Samford 11, #4 Mercer 0
Game 9: #2 Wofford 2, #6 ETSU 1 


May 24 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 10: #4 Mercer 9, #3 UNCG 5

Game 11: #6 ETSU 7, #5 Furman 5


May 25 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 12: #2 Wofford 5, #1 Samford 2

Game 13: #4 Mercer 11, #6 ETSU 7
Game 14: #4 Mercer 4, #1 Samford 3


May 26 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN+)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: #2 Wofford vs. #4 Mercer                                12 p.m.

^Game 16: #2 Wofford vs. #4 Mercer                               40 minutes after Game 15 


^ if necessary


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