ATLANTA — If Mercer somehow missed the message Tuesday night, it was offered a similar attention-catching memo Wednesday. And this time, it was delivered with a set of loud ear-ringing pings that reverberated throughout Russ Chandler Stadium and beyond.
One day after dropping a seven-run decision at home to Georgia Tech, the Bears traveled to the Yellow Jackets’ home ballpark just to be handed their worst defeat of the season: a 20-hit, 19-4 loss to kick off a nine-game road stretch.
“They’ve done a great job putting that team together, and they’re playing well together,” Mercer head coach Craig Gibson said of the Yellow Jackets. “For the ACC, look out.”
Those comments came after Gibson on Tuesday told The Telegraph he wasn’t surprised by how well Georgia Tech played against his team. Ranke third in the country, the Yellow Jackets “are what we thought they were,” Gibson said.
Up next for Georgia Tech is a three-game road slate with ACC foe North Carolina. One of their biggest series of the young season, the Yellow Jackets hope to keep their bats scorching hot.
“It’s definitely good to get the bats and keep them hot and rolling as we go into North Carolina, where it’s going to be the first big test for us,” shortstop Derek Dietrich said.
After the Bears posted a 1-0 first-inning lead, it may have been easy to think Georgia Tech’s bats were going to go in hiding.
An inning later, out they came.
Following a lead-off triple from designated hitter Cole Leonida in the second, the Yellow Jackets rattled off a string of seven hits that led to a seven-run inning. Dietrich also had a triple in the inning, one of three Yellow Jackets to accomplish the feat in the game.
Wednesday’s game marked the eighth time in school history that Georgia Tech hit three team triples, tying a school record. The last time it happened was April 24, 2007 against Georgia at Turner Field.
“I started swinging the bat well at the beginning of the year, but I just wasn’t hitting for as much power as I know I can,” Dietrich said. “I just got in there and really wanted to put a good swing on the ball and see how hard I could hit it. I kind of took that mentality into every game and every at-bat. It seems to be working.”
In addition to Dietrich’s 2-for-3 night, Leonida went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI, fill-in left fielder Brandon Thomas went 2-for-3 and center fielder Jeff Rowland and shortstop Conner Winn each hit solo home runs. Georgia Tech’s leadoff hitter, Rowland hit his seventh home run of the season.
“We’ve had contributions (lately) from a lot of different guys,” Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said. “We’ve got (Jay) Dantzler down a bit there and Brandon Thomas steps in there and hits the ball good two days in a row, and so that’s good to see.”
Thomas, who is filling in for an injured Dantzler, scored three runs Tuesday. The freshman said early indicators point toward him starting in place of Dantzler for the next two to three weeks.
After struggling to close out back-to-back Mercer hitters in the first — working the count to 1-2 on both players before they singled and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, respectively — Georgia Tech starter Buck Farmer worked to maintain his poise through a five-inning outing.
“I thought he was off,” Hall said of Farmer, who was making his second career start. “He didn’t throw as good as he’s capable of or as we’ve seen him, but he did make some pitches when he got in trouble to minimize the damage that they did, but it was good for him to get out there and get another start under his belt.”
Farmer allowed three earned runs and six hits before leaving with a commanding lead.