Craig Gibson said Friday he had some butterflies entering this season, mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding his pitching staff.
Some of those concerns will be eased a bit if the Mercer baseball team gets pitching like it did Sunday in a 9-2 win over Radford. Freshman Kevin Coulter went 5-2/3 innings, while fellow freshman Kyle Bialousz pitched 1-1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Mercer jumped on top with two runs in the second and added a single run in the third before blowing it open with two in fourth and three in the fifth.
THREE WHO MATTERED
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Coulter: The Buford product didn't allow a hit until the fifth, and he recorded two strikeouts with two walks.
Jose Hernandez: The senior catcher went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
Ryan Hagan: The junior leadoff hitter is the only new position player in the Bears' regular lineup, but he's off to a solid start. He went 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored and is 6-for-13 for the season.
Potent lineup: Mercer scored 27 runs in the sweep and had 27 hits.
Hitting in the clutch: The Bears were 5-for-11 with two outs and 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Terrific in the field, too: Center fielder Kyle Lewis certainly isn't just an offensive threat. The junior had two terrific catches up against the wall to back up Coulter. Oh, and Lewis had two hits and one RBI, as well.
More defense: Sophomore Jackson Ware took away several hits from the Highlanders with some dynamic plays in left field.
Strong start: Mercer is off to a 3-0 start for the third time in four years. It's the fifth time in Gibson's tenure that the Bears have swept a season-opening series.
Closing in on a milestone: Gibson needs four wins to become the third head coach in program history to record 400 wins.
THEY SAID IT
Gibson on the sweep: "Their guy (Sunday) was really good; we put some good swings on him. Jose had a really good at-bat and got the ball out of the park. Kevin Coulter, really good for his first outing. He gave us a great start, probably one of the better first outings we've had as a freshman."
Coulter on his first college start: "I felt like the fastball command was pretty good. The offspeed wasn't great. Thank goodness for the defense, they saved about four runs for me. I know Kyle had a few plays, Hagan made a play, Jackson had a couple. Thank goodness for them. It was a good overall team win."
Hernandez on his strong start: "I just take it one at-bat at a time and see what their pitcher is doing and take a nice, deep breath and have a good approach up there. The coaches have really, really helped me out, especially (new assistant coach Willie) Stewart. He's a big addition for us. One AB at a time, one pitch at a time."
Mercer hosts Georgia on Tuesday afternoon.