The nations top college baseball team in one RPI report goes for its sixth straight victory on Friday.
Mercer, No. 1 in the Warren Nolan RPI rankings, welcomes Evansville for a three-game non-conference series starting at 4 p.m. on Friday. The series continues at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The Purple Aces of the Missouri Valley Conference are already off to a 3-0 start against the A-Sun.
Evansville beat Lipscomb 8-2, 10-7 and 3-2 on the road to open the season.
Mercers batteries will be tested. Evansville stole 12 bases against Lipscomb, thanks in part to 26 walks.
Kyle Freeland is the MVCs preseason pitcher of the year and Baseball America second-team All-American. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA, the same as Brandon Barker, Mercers Friday night starter.
Freeland, a junior left-hander, went 4-8 with a 4.34 ERA last season with 84 strikeouts in 93-1/3 innings.
Kyle Pollock is off to a 7-for-14 start, while Kevin Kaczmarski has two doubles, a triple and three RBI.
Evansville went 24-34 last season and was 1-2 against the A-Sun (Kennesaw State). Picked to finish sixth in the conference, the Purple Aces were 182nd last season in the NCAA RPI and are 166th on the Warren Nolan list so far.
Mercers Sasha LaGarde, batting leadoff until Nate Moorhouse returns from a hamstring injury, leads the A-Sun with three homers and is batting .368. Nate Backlund is off to a .421 start, and newcomer Devin Bonin shares the team RBI lead with LaGarde with six.
Teams are batting .267 against Mercer pitching, which has a 2.20 ERA and 42 strikeouts to 12 walks with only one home run allowed.