MACON, Ga. – The Belmont baseball team (24-13, 10-4) fell to Mercer (23-14, 6-8) by a score of 10-4 on Saturday afternoon, clinching its first series loss in Atlantic Sun Conference play this season. Senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) was one of the few bright spots of the day, going three-for-four in the defeat.
It was Mitchell that got the Bruins out to a good start in this one, knocking a ball through the left side of the infield for a leadoff single. After senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) sacrificed Mitchell to second, the second baseman scored when sophomore Greg Brody drove in the first run of the game on a double down the left field line.
Mercer's Chesny Young suspended further damage when the third baseman snagged a hard hit ball by junior Judah Akers (Cookeville, Tenn.), which would have been extra bases for the designated hitter. The Bruins rallied with two outs, scoring three more runs after the line out by Akers.
Freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.) walked and junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) tallied an infield single to load the bases. Sophomore William Dodd (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was then hit by a pitch to score Brody from third, and freshman Jamie Ritchie (Buford, Ga.) drove in the final two runs of the frame with a single to right center field.
Belmont batted in around in the top of the first inning, and was in good shape with a 4-0 lead, but the Bruins only managed three hits for the rest of the game, failing to score another run. Mercer countered quickly, leading off the bottom of the first with a walk and a double, before Jamie McMillan hit a three-run homer off of senior captain Matt Hamann (Northbrook, Ill.) to make it 4-3 after one.
While BU had trouble at the plate following the fine first inning, Mercer continued to cause trouble for the Belmont pitchers throughout the contest. The Bears added two runs in the third and three in the fifth to take an 8-4 lead over halfway through the game.
Junior Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.) relieved Hamann midway through the fifth inning, and gave up a pair of solo home runs to the Bears in the sixth and seventh innings. The stout Belmont pitching staff, which held a 3.02 ERA coming into the weekend, has now given up 17 runs in two games against the potent Mercer offense.
Mitchell led off the second inning with a single through the infield, and Beaty led off the third with a double to left center field, but the Bruins were then held without a hit until Mitchell's third of the game, another single to lead off the ninth.
Much of the credit has to go to reliever Morgan Pittman, who pitched five innings of relief, allowing no runs and no hits. The freshman came into the weekend with only 15.1 innings pitched, recording a third of that total against the Bruins on Saturday. David Teasley was the pitcher credited with the win, though, pitching the final two thirds of the third inning, before Mercer took the lead in the bottom half of the frame.
Belmont finished the game with four runs on seven hits and no errors. Hamann fell to 2-4 on the season, allowing eight runs on seven hits in the loss. The starter struck out two batters and walked a season high five batters. Like junior Chase Brookshire (Chattanooga, Tenn.) on Friday, Hamann had not walked more than two batters this season.
Mercer totaled 10 runs on 11 hits and two errors. Teasley improved to 4-0 on the season, and there was no save in the contest. Nick Backlund, Jamie McMilan, and DJ Johnson all homered in the win. Young went three-for-five on the day, while Evan Boyd added a pair of doubles for the Bears.
Belmont will attempt to avoid the weekend sweep tomorrow. The Bruins have yet to be swept in any weekend series this season. Sunday's first pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. CT, with sophomore James Buckelew (Lawrenceville, Ga.) squaring off against David Randall.