Sports

Eagles’ offense too much for Bears

During one stoppage of play, Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” played over the loudspeakers, and it was fitting.

Baseballs were in the air at Claude Smith Field as Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast treated the two pitching staffs like they were dealing batting practice.

Florida Gulf Coast did it a little bit better, smacking around six Mercer pitchers for a 14-11 win Sunday in A-Sun baseball action.

Both teams had season highs in hits, Florida Gulf Coast with 21 and Mercer with 20.

“Sunday games tend to be a little more offensive,” Mercer catcher Casey Stuart said. “And both teams were offensive.”

But for the second straight game, Florida Gulf Coast had a little more. The Eagles won 7-6 on Saturday, answering each Mercer rally, which they did again Sunday.

Florida Gulf Coast went from a 3-0 first-inning deficit to a 6-3 lead after two innings, 7-5 after three and 9-8 after four before outscoring Mercer 5-3 in the final three innings.

That was a bad stat for the Bears: Florida Gulf Coast outscored Mercer 11-8 in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings combined Saturday and Sunday.

“Giving up 11 runs the last three innings, you can’t beat anybody,” Mercer head coach Craig Gibson said. “But especially a good club. That’s a good club.”

Mercer fell to 10-14 overall and 5-7 in the A-Sun while losing by three runs or less for the eighth time this season. Florida Gulf Coast improved to 17-14 and 10-5.

The Bears host College of Charleston at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, travel to Stetson this weekend and return for a five-game homestand starting April 14 against Florida A&M.

First pitch was pushed back to noon Sunday, but the game actually started 38 minutes after the original time of 1 p.m., and the action soon followed.

The teams combined for 41 hits, five home runs and 25 runners left on base against 10 pitchers.

Nick DiMauro had two homers and four RBI for Mercer, but his at-bat in the eighth will haunt him. He popped up with the bases loaded and Mercer trailing 12-10.

“I saw a pitch up I wanted to drive,” said DiMauro, who was 7-for-16 in the series. “I think I got a little overanxious.”

Michael Langley had four hits, while Stuart and Joe Winker had three each.

Mikel Alvarez and Tim Roberson had four hits for Florida Gulf Coast.

Mercer starting pitcher Justice French had a rough day, racking up two balks, a hit batter and a wild pitch while allowing seven runs on seven hits in the first three innings.

The Eagles scored six in the second on two infield singles, a balk, passed ball, two regular singles and a three-run homer by Tim Roberson. Three of the runs came with two outs, leading to French’s second three-inning stint of the season.

The Bears, who scored three runs in the first, got two runs back in the third on doubles from Winker and Thomas Carroll sandwiched around a walk to Stuart.

But reliever John Hoelzer couldn’t get out of the fourth, Florida Gulf Coast getting a leadoff double and then scoring twice after a double play. J.T. Odom needed three pitches to get out of the inning, but Mercer trailed 9-5.

“(Odom) has been really good,” Gibson said of the sophomore who struck out five in 2-2/3 innings. “He has really stepped up on the pitching side for us.”

DiMauro belted a two-run homer and Langley a monster solo shot to start the fourth, and the Bears were right back in it, trailing 9-8.

“We did some things,” Gibson said. “We met the challenge. We didn’t fold, we kept coming back.”

Dan April replaced Odom and lasted two hitters and a two-run homer, giving way to closer Blake Mainor, who surrendered two singles before finishing the inning.

“I told (Mainor), ‘If you hold them scoreless here, I think we’re gonna come back and win this thing,’ ” Gibson said. “But they’re a really good hitting club.”

The Eagles got three runs off of Mainor in the eighth and ninth, FGC countering each Mercer answer.

“It was one of those weekends,” said Stuart, who was 6-for-11 in the series. “We’ve got to pick our heads up. We’ve got to get back and answer.”

Florida Gulf Coast 14

Mercer 11

Next: vs. College of Charleston, 4 p.m., Wednesday

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