FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2006
Baseball rally falls just short in 7-6 loss to Mercer
May 26, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One last game of dramatics was cut short when junior Thomas LePage's smash down the first-base line was caught to end the contest as the JU baseball team fell to No. 2 Mercer, 7-6, Friday morning in the third day of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship presented by Progress Energy.
JU (42-17) was eliminated from the conference tournament with the loss and will need to receive an at-large bid to earn a trip to the NCAA Regionals.
"We tried to pull something out again but we put ourselves in too big of a whole early on," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "Hopefully we've done enough during the year to earn an at-large bid and we can keep our season going."
Trailing 7-5 in the ninth, senior Gordie Gronkowski and junior Mike McCallister each hit back-to-back singles with one out. Junior Daniel Murphy entered the game as a pinch-hitter and dropped a single to left field to load the bases. Sophomore Matt Lopez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field to cut the margin to one. In the next at-bat, LePage ripped the first pitch from Hunt Abercrombie towards the first-base line. Shawn Barrett, who had positioned himself to protect the line, leaned to his left to make the final out of the contest.
Freshman RHP Joey Wedner (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing seven runs (six earned) on six hits with a walk and a strikeout in 2.2 innings. Freshman RHP Tim Brown and sophomore RHP Matt Davis combined for 5.1 shutout innings of relief to keep the Dolphins in the contest. McCallister finished 4-for-5 to lead the Dolphin offense.
J.C. Daugherty (3-1) earned the win after allowing five runs on nine hits with four walks and five strikeouts in seven innings of work while also hurling 127 pitches. Hunter Abercrombie earned his second save of the year after allowing only a run in two relief innings.
JU took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning when McCallister scored from third on a balk by Daugherty and LePage hit an RBI single to center.
Mercer exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the third after a two-run single to short by Josh Thompson, an RBI single to center by Eric Renfroe, a two-run double to left center by Billy Shaughnessy and an RBI single to center by Jason Lowey.
The Dolphins cut the margin to 7-5 in the eighth inning when sophomore Matt Dobbins hit an RBI single up the middle, pinch-hitter Stefan Hertel hit an RBI groundout to second and junior Logan James pulled an RBI single through the right side. McCallister led off the inning with a double to right center.
The Dolphins will await the decision for an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals on Monday. A pre-selection party will be announced later in the weekend.