MACON, Ga. – Senior Phillip Parsley (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) played the hero as the Belmont baseball team (25-13, 11-4) defeated Mercer (23-15, 6-9) by a score of 7-6 in a marathon of a game in Macon on Sunday. The Bruins and the Bears played 13 innings for four hours and 45 minutes, as Belmont avoided the sweep on Parsley's game-winning single.
Parsley, who had only appeared in 14 out of Belmont's 37 games before Sunday, entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. After the Bruins tied the game at 6-6 in the eighth to push the contest into extra innings, Parsley prevented the Bears from scoring the winning run with a huge throw in the bottom of the 11th.
Senior Garrett Fanchier (Lebanon, Tenn.) began his third inning of relief by hitting Derrick Workman with a pitch. The outfielder then advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt, and it was a single to left field by Daniel Cardwell that sent Workman around third and heading for home. Parsley picked the ball up in left, and fired a strike to the plate, hitting freshman catcher Jamie Ritchie (Buford, Ga.) on the fly to prevent the Mercer run from ending the game.
"Coach Smith moved us in because we knew we had to throw the runner out at the plate," Parsley said following the game. "The ball came my way, and I threw it as hard as I could towards Jamie. Thankfully, he made a great play and tagged the guy out."
It was Parsley who came to the rescue in the final frame of the game, driving in what ended up being the winning run for the Bruins. Second baseman turned relief pitcher DJ Johnson began his fifth inning on the mound by walking Belmont's Greg Brody (Dacula, Ga.). Junior Josh Davis (Fayetteville, Ga.), who has worked almost entirely as a pitcher for the Bruins this season, came in to pinch hit, and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Brody to second.
With first base open, Mercer decided to intentionally walk freshman Matt Beaty (Dresden, Tenn.), putting two men on for Belmont. After junior captain Drew Turner (Shelbyville, Tenn.) flied out to left, Parsley came to the plate for the fourth time with no hits on the day. The senior came through for the second time in three innings, hitting a single to left field, which drove in Brody for what ended up being the winning run.
"I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere back up the middle," Parsley said of his late inning single. "It feels good. It's always good to help the team win, whether it is cheering my teammates on from the dugout or having the opportunity to make a play out on the field like today."
After scoring the first run of the game for the third straight day, Belmont gave up six straight runs to the Bears, and fell behind 6-1 heading into the seventh. The Bruins countered with five runs during the seventh and eighth innings to finally tie the game at 6-6.
Ritchie, who finished with two hits on the day and five on the weekend, singled to lead off the seventh. Freshman Scott Moses (Englewood, Tenn.) then walked before senior captain Zac Mitchell (Cordova, Tenn.) stepped to the plate. The third baseman tripled but was left stranded back in the third inning. Mitchell left no doubt in the seventh, swinging on the first pitch by reliever Brandon Barker, and putting it over the right field fence to make it 6-4.
It was Moses who started the rally in the eighth, walking for the second straight inning, and reaching second when Mitchell was hit by a pitch for the 21st time this season. A Mercer error allowed Belmont to load the bases, and a Brody sacrifice fly brought the Bruins within one. Freshman Alec Diamond (Kennesaw, Ga.) finally tied the game for BU with a slicing single to left center, driving in Mitchell to tie the game.
Belmont used five pitchers throughout the game, including Fanchier, who allowed no runs on only four hits in four innings of relief. The senior improved to 1-1 on the season with the win, while freshman Dan Ludwig (Naperville, Ill.) picked up his first save of the season with a perfect bottom of the 13th.
The Bruins finished with seven runs on 12 hits and two errors. Mitchell, senior Dylan Craig (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), and Ritchie each tallied two hits in the victory. Mitchell drove in three runs and scored three to lead Belmont at the plate.
Mercer totaled six runs on 14 hits and one error. Johnson fell to 0-1 on the season after giving up just one run on three hits in five innings of relief. Four Bears recorded two hits in the loss, but only one extra base hit was tallied by Mercer.
Belmont remains in first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference after avoiding the sweep and improving to 11-4 in league play. The Bruins will host Western Kentucky on Tuesday, and play at Tennessee Tech on Wednesday, before heading to Kennesaw State for a three-game A-Sun series.