The West Virginia University baseball team fell to Mercer, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon at OrthoGeorgia Park in Macon, Georgia.
In the middle game of the Mountaineers’ three-game series against the Bears, Mercer used a pair of early runs and relied on a strong performance on the mound. WVU finished with one run on seven hits, while Mercer tallied three runs on six hits. Both teams committed an error.
The setback snapped WVU’s four-game win streak.
“(Mercer) just had a different look; you aren’t used to facing side-arm guys with fastballs in the 79 mile-per-hour range,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said. “It took us a little too long to make any adjustments, and we only had one hit out of a right-handed hitter. We didn’t do much as far as adjusting today.
“You have to have a short memory. If you want to play college baseball, you can’t get too excited when you win, and you can’t get too down when you lose. There’s a series to be had tomorrow.”
After West Virginia (9-5) was retired in order to begin the game in the first, Mercer (12-2) grabbed a 1-0 lead on a two-out walk with the bases loaded. The Bears doubled their lead in the bottom of the second with an RBI double down the right-field line.
The Mountaineers, though, got back within one in the third inning, when redshirt senior outfielder Braden Zarbnisky recorded an RBI groundout, scoring freshman outfielder Victor Scott. The speedy freshman singled to begin the frame, then advanced all the way to third on a failed pickoff attempt, before Zarbnisky knocked him in.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Bergert, who got the start on the mound for WVU on Saturday, worked his way out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth, as the Mountaineers tallied an inning-ending double play with runs on first and second.
Bergert went on to toss five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. The Canton, Ohio, native struck out six and walked four on 103 pitches.
After the Mountaineers stranded a runner on second in the sixth, the squad had another opportunity in the top of the seventh. Freshman catcher/infielder Matt McCormick and sophomore infielder Ryan Archibald each singled, before Scott advanced both runners with groundout to first moments later.
With runners on second and third with two outs, a strikeout ended the Mountaineer threat.
The Bears scored their third run of the day in the bottom of the seventh, a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield to make it 3-1.
WVU used three relievers to get out of a big jam in the bottom of the eighth. Freshman right-hander Jacob Watters, who struck out three in 2.2 innings, grabbed the first two outs, before sophomore left-handed pitcher Beau Lowery nailed down the third with the bases loaded to keep the deficit at two.
The Mountaineers brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, before the game ended on a flyout to left.
Bergert took the loss, dropping his season record to 2-1 on the year. McCormick led WVU at the plate, finishing 3-of-4 with three singles.
Next up, the Mountaineers look to win the road series in Sunday’s rubber match against Mercer on Sunday, March 8. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. ET.