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The Southern ConferencePublished: 5/25/2024, Last updated: 6/25/2024
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ETSU, Mercer Stay Alive at SoCon Baseball Championship

Bucs to face Bears in Elimination Game Saturday Afternoon

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No. 3 ETSU 10, No. 1 UNCG 7
GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 3 seed ETSU used a seven-run seventh inning to rally from a six-run deficit as the Bucs
staved off elimination by defeating top-seeded UNCG, 10-7, on Friday at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.
ETSU (35-19) advances to face (No. 4 seed Western Carolina (28-25) or seventh-seeded Mercer (28-28)) at 3:30 p.m.
Saturday. UNCG sees its season end at 33-21.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel. Neither team was able to score in the game’s first five frames.
UNCG’s Jake Ogden singled to center field with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Two batters later, Luke
Holland was hit by a pitch, setting the stage for a Jacob Dilley single up the middle, bringing Ogden across for the game’s first run.
The Spartans lengthened their lead in the seventh inning. Back-to-back two-out singles by Cam Murphy and Aidan Brewer
gave the squad a pair of baserunners. Ogden then reached on a throwing error, which also allowed Murphy to score, making
the score 2-0 in favor of UNCG.
With runners on first and second, Caleb Cozart was intentionally walked to load the bases but the move backfired against ETSU, as Holland belted a full-count pitch over the fence in left center field for a grand slam, putting the Spartans ahead 6-0.
ETSU began its comeback with one out in the top of the eighth inning. Ryan McCarthy doubled to left field and went to third on Nick Iannantone’s single through the left side. McCarthy later scored on a passed ball for the Bucs’ first run. Tommy Barth drew a full-count walk and Cameron Sisneros singled to right field which loaded the bases.
Following a fly out, Noah Gent drew a full-count walk to bring home Iannantone with the Bucs’ second run. Blake Jacklin continued ETSU’s rally with a two-run single, moving the score to 6-4. Ashton King gave the Bucs their first lead of the day on the next at-bat with a three-run homer over the center field wall, giving ETSU a 7-6 advantage.
McCarthy gave ETSU an insurance run with no outs in the top of the ninth with his third homer of the season. Cody Miller and
Gent hit consecutive sacrifice flies later in the inning to give the squad a four-run advantage.
But the Spartans were not finished just yet, as Murphy opened the UNCG ninth inning by doubling to the gap in left center
field. He came around to score on a Cozart RBI-single, but the Spartans could get no closer.
ETSU starter Jace Hyde (6-4) was the beneficiary of the Bucs’ seventh-inning explosion. The right-hander did not factor in
the decision after surrendering six runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings on the mound. He struck out eight and walked just two.
Andrew Ronne (5-5) earned the win in relief after allowing just one run on two hits over 2.1 innings. He struck out three and
walked one.
No. 7 Mercer 10, No. 4 Western Carolina 8
GREENVILLE, S.C. – No. 7 seed Mercer rallied with three runs in the top of the eighth inning on junior Bradley Frye’s ninth home run of the season and held on to defeat No. 3 seed Western Carolina, 10-8, on Friday at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.
Mercer improved to 29-28 on the season, with the win setting up a matchup between the Bears and third-seeded
ETSU on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Mercer defeated ETSU, 7-4, on Thursday (May 23) in the second round of the SoCon
Tournament. Western Carolina sees its season end at 28-26.
Mercer’s Parker Lester opened the game with his fourth walk of the tournament and went to second on Frye’s single to center
field. Both runners moved up when Ty Dalley flied out to center field and both scored on Jackson Cherry’s groundout and an
error by the Catamounts, respectively.
Zach Ketterman countered for Western Carolina with a double to right field and moved to third on the throw. He crossed the
plate with the Catamounts’ first run on Trent Turner’s sacrifice fly.
Mercer used a pair of home runs, a solo shot by Ely Brown then a two-run homer by Dalley, to build a 5-1 lead in the top of
the second inning.
The Bears threatened to widen the gap in the third inning, as Carter Sanford singled up the middle and went to third on
Brown’s double to left field, but both runners were left stranded.
Lester began the fourth frame with a single and moved to third base on Dalley’s second straight hit, a single to center, but
Western Carolina turned a double play to erase the threat. The Catamounts chipped away with two runs in the bottom of the
inning to close within 5-3. The Bears got one of the runs back, plating a run in the top of the fifth. Brandon Prince doubled down the left-field line and scored when Brown notched his third hit of the contest with a single.
Following a 1-2-3 inning by Mercer in the top of the sixth inning, James Hinson brought the Catamounts back within two with
his solo home run to left field as the score stood 6-4 in favor of the Bears. Hayden Friese followed with a walk and Jack
Spyke added a single to get the tying run on base with just one out. Both runners moved up a base on Kyle Riesselmann’s
sacrifice bunt and both crossed the plate to knot the score at 6-6 on a double by Ketterman. After Trent Turner walked, Drew
Needham came through with a clutch two-run double to give Western Carolina its first lead of the night, at 8-6.
Cherry responded for the Bears with a solo home run to open the seventh inning. One inning later, the Bears’ Conner
Todaro walked with one out in the top of the eighth inning and Lester followed with a single. On the next at-bat Frye
belted Mercer’s fourth home run of the night to regain a 10-8 lead for the Bears.
Western Carolina made one last effort in the final frame. Needham led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right field
and went to second on Mason Holton’s groundout, but the Catamounts were unable to capitalize.
Brown was 3-for-5 at the plate with a home run, a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Lester was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored, while Frye went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Sanford was also 2-for-4 with a walk. Dalley was 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs.
Riesselmann notched a pair of singles in three trips to the plate. Ketterman was 2-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored. Needham added a double and a single, while driving in a pair of runs. Spyke was 2-for-4 and scored a run.
Jaxon O’Neal, the fifth Mercer pitcher of the night, improved to 2-2 on the season after giving up just a single over 1.2
innings. The left-hander struck out one and did not issue a walk. Colton Cosper earned his second save of the year after
working the final 1.1 innings. Also a left-hander, he struck out one and did not issue a walk.
2024 SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
May 22 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN+)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #5 Wofford 8, #8 The Citadel 3
Game 2: #7 Mercer 19, #6 VMI 14
May 23 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN+)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 3: #5 Wofford 12, #4 Western Carolina 1
Game 4: #7 Mercer 7, #3 ETSU 4
May 24 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN+)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 5: #5 Wofford 5, #1 UNCG 2
Game 6:  #2 Samford 9, #7 Mercer 7
Game 7: #3 ETSU 10, #1 UNCG 7
Game 8: #7 Mercer 10, #4 Western Carolina 8
May 25 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN+)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 9: #5 Wofford vs. #2 Samford, 12 p.m.
Game 10: #3 ETSU vs. #7 Mercer, 3:30 p.m.
Game 11: Winner Game 10 vs. Loser Game 9, 7 p.m.
May 26 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 12: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 11, 12 p.m.
Game 13: Game 12 winner vs. Game 12 loser^, 40 minutes after Game 12
^ if necessary