With Mercers heralded closer Dimitri Kourtis held out of Sunday afternoons series finale against High Point with an injury, the Bears found themselves needing another pitching arm to come out of the bullpen and silence a rally by the Panthers.
Ben Lumsden delivered.
With two High Point runners aboard and the Bears leading by one, Lumsden forced Josh Spano to foul out before retiring the side in order in the ninth inning for his first save of the year as the Bears (3-0) won 4-3 to sweep the season-opening series.
It hurts not having Dimitri, Lumsden said, but I enjoy pitching, I like pressure.
The Bears, who are in the midst of a 10-game homestand to begin the season, host Florida A&M on Tuesday.
Mercer enjoyed a big day at the plate from first baseman Nick Backlund. He got the Bears on the board in the first inning on a solo homer to deep center field and added an infield hit up the middle in the third inning scored Danny Edgeworth, who reached on a walk.
That guy is one of the best in the country. They pitched to him, give them credit, Gibson said of Backlund. Over the course of time, hell get you. Were glad we have him.
Sasha LaGarde added to the Mercer lead in the fourth inning, blasting a two-run homer over the right-field wall for a 4-1 Bears lead.
Kourtis experienced shoulder soreness prior to Saturdays game and was held out, opening the door for the Bears bullpen.
Austin Lord and Mitchell Wade relieved Mercer starting pitcher Eric Nyquist, who gave up a run on four hits through five and two-thirds of an inning for his first win of the season.
Lord ran into trouble in the eighth inning, but as the Bears did throughout the afternoon on the mound, they minimized damage. In the eighth inning, two High Point singles and an error by Chesny Young loaded the bases, prompting Gibson to bring in Wade. Back-to-back pinch-hit singles from Chris Clare and Blake Hutton trimmed a 4-1 Bears lead to 4-3, but Lord buckled down, striking out Josh Greene for the innings second out before Lumsden was called to the mound.
I knew I was getting loose to get ready, but once the based got loaded, I knew I was about to come in, Lumsden said.
High Point also loaded the bases with two outs in the second before Nyquist forced a Kyle Brandenburg flyout.
Our bullpen was outstanding, Gibson said. They throw the ball in the strike zone, and usually good things happen.