GREENVILLE, S.C. (Wofford SID) – The Wofford College baseball team was defeated twice on Sunday by Mercer in the 2019 Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field. Mercer won the first game 12-8 after taking an 8-2 lead after three innings to send the tournament into a final game. The Bears lead 6-1 after four innings. Wofford scored one run in the fifth and three in the sixth to make it a 6-5 game. Mercer plated three runs in the eighth for the 9-5 final score.
Wofford, the #2 seed in the tournament, ends the season 36-25 and #3 seed Mercer is 34-27 overall. The Terriers reached the championship game for just the second time (2007). The 36 wins are tied for the second-most in school history. Reece Maniscalco and Mike Brown were named to the All-Tournament Team.
In the first game, the Bears had a double with two outs in the top of the first inning and the runner moved to third on a wild pitch. A walk had runners on the corners and a single through the right side gave Mercer a 1-0 lead. A double scored two more runs for a 3-0 advantage at the end of the top half. Mike Brown was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first and Brett Rodriguez reached on a fielder’s choice, with Brown safe at second due to an error. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and a single up the middle by Lawson Hill scored both runners to cut the lead to 3-2. A pair of strikeouts ended the first inning.
In the top of the second the Bears led off with two singles and they advanced on a passed ball. A ground out scored a run to make it 4-2 before a pop up and fly ball ended the top half. Andrew Orzel had a double with one out in the bottom of the second inning but was unable to advance. Mercer had a walk and single to open the third inning. An error fielding a bunt allowed a run to score for a 5-2 lead. A hit by pitch loaded the bases and a double plated two more runs to make it 7-2. After an RBI single made it 8-2, the Terriers made a pitching change. Three fly balls ended the top half of the third.
Brett Rodriguez and Hudson Byorick each singled up the middle to begin the bottom of the third inning. They advanced on a sacrifice bunt but a fielder’s choice had the lead runner out and a flyball ended the third inning. The Bears were retired in order in the top of the fourth inning. With one out in the bottom of the fourth Andrew Orzel hit a solo home run into the seats on the Green Monster to cut the lead to 8-3. It was his third home run of the season. Both teams were retired in order in the fifth inning.
Mercer led off the sixth with a single. Errors on back-to-back bunts enabled a run to score for a 9-3 lead. An intentional walk loaded the bases and another walk plated a run to make it 10-3. The next three batters were retired in order to leave three runners stranded. Colin Davis singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but a double play ended the inning. In the top of the seventh, the Bears had a ground-rule double, single and hit by pitch to load the bases. A sacrifice fly drove in a run and an RBI single made it 12-3 at the seventh inning stretch.
A double by Andrew Orzel led off the bottom of the seventh and he scored on a single by Josh Congdon. Mike Brown followed with a single and a ground rule double by Brett Rodriguez drove in a run for a 12-5 game. A double by John Dempsey with two outs added two runs to cut the lead to 12-7 before a strikeout ended the inning. The Bears opened the eighth with a walk and had a single with two outs. A fly ball ended the scoring chance.
Ethan Cornelius singled to start the bottom of the eighth inning and Andrew Orzel followed with a single. With one out a single up the middle by Mike Brown drove in Cornelius for a 12-8 margin. A double play on a fielder’s choice ended the frame. The Bears had a single with one out in the top of the ninth before the Terriers turned a double play. Wofford was retired in order to end the game.
Wofford starter Austin Higginbotham (9-4) threw two innings with eight runs allowed on eight hits with one strikeout. Ty Reginelli went a career-long three innings with two runs allowed on one hit and a strikeout. Matt Ellmyer went an inning with two runs allowed on two hits, along with a strikeout. Anthony Garcia threw the final three innings with three hits allowed and a strikeout.
Sawyer Gipson-Long (8-3) started for Mercer and went seven innings with seven runs allowed on 11 hits, while striking out eight. Scott Smith went a third of an inning with one run allowed on two hits. Nick Spear completed the game by going 1.2 innings with one hit allowed and one strikeout.
With one out in the first inning of the second game, Brett Rodriguez cleared the Green Monster to give Wofford a 1-0 lead. Hudson Byorick was hit by a pitch and Lawson Hill followed with a single, but both were stranded. The Bears had one out when two batters walked. After a pitching change, a strikeout and fly ball left the runners on base. With one out in the top of the second inning, Nolen Hester and Josh Congdon reached on back-to-back walks. A fly ball moved Hester to third before a fielder’s choice left two runners on base.
The Bears had a walk and a single to put runners on the corners in the bottom of the second inning. A ground out tied the game at 1-1 and an RBI double gave Mercer a 2-1 lead. With two outs a single up the middle made it a 3-1 advantage. Wofford went in order in the top of the third inning. Mercer led off their half of the third with a single and the runner advanced on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs a run scored on a fielding error to push the lead to 4-1. The Terriers were retired in order in the top of the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Mercer led off with a single and a double. A ground out plated a run and a double gave the Bears a 6-1 advantage. Josh Congdon led off the fifth inning with a single up the middle and Mike Brown followed with a single. A walk by Brett Rodriguez loaded the bases before the Bears turned a double play that allowed one run to score. Mercer was retired in order to end the fifth inning.
John Dempsey and Colin Davis had back-to-back singles to lead off the sixth inning. Andrew Orzel reached on a bunt to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Nolen Hester scored a run for a 6-3 game. With two outs a walk by Mike Brown had the bases loaded and a single by Brett Rodriguez drove in two runs for a 6-5 score. The Bears left two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth after a pair of singles.
A Lawson Hill single opened the top of the seventh inning. After a Mercer pitching change, the Terriers were retired in order to leave Hill stranded at first. The Bears led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and the runner moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs a fielding error gave Mercer runners on the corners and a walk loaded the bases. A fly ball ended the scoring chance with three stranded. Mercer led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and with one out an error on a fielder’s choice gave the Bears runners on the corners. A walk loaded the bases and with two outs a single to left field drove in two runs for an 8-5 lead. An RBI single added a run for a 9-6 margin at the end of the frame.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Hudson Byorick singled and Lawson Hill followed with a single. A fly ball to right field and a fly ball to center field ended the game.
David Yourke started for Wofford and threw a third of an inning with two walks. Jake Hershman (2-3) went an inning with three runs allowed on two hits, along with a walk and strikeout. Rasesh Pandya allowed three runs on five hits in 2.2 innings with two strikeouts. Reece Maniscalco threw three innings and did not allow a run in three hits and two strikeouts. Hayes Heinecke worked an inning with three runs allowed on two hits.
Mercer starter Holton McGaha went 1.1 innings with one run allowed on two hits and a strikeout. Taylor Lobus (2-0) worked 2.2 innings with one run allowed on two hits. Andrew Kane threw an inning with two runs allowed on two hits. Nick Spear went an inning with one run allowed on two hits. Tanner Hall earned the save by going the final three innings without allowing a run on three hits and two strikeouts.