Baseball splits pair of one-game matchups

Mercer continues tear with five hits in two games


Sophomore infielder Riley Hawthorne gets a hit to bring the winning run home against Alabama A&M. Photo by Rebeca Mertins Chiodini/The News.

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

Murray State baseball split a pair of one-game series, defeating Alabama A&M and losing to UT Martin on Tuesday, April 18, and Wednesday, April 19.

Sophomore outfielder Dustin Mercer and junior infielder Drew Vogel headed into the week hot, grabbing 10 hits and six hits respectively over a three-game weekend series against Illinois State. The two continued to hit well at the plate on Tuesday as Mercer had three hits and a home run, and Vogel got a hit and an RBI.

vs. Alabama A&M

The bottom of the first inning started with a flyout by the lead-off hitter, but Mercer put the Racers on the board with a solo home run to center field.

After sophomore Carson Garner drew a walk in his first at-bat and stole second base, Vogel hit a ground-rule double that brought Garner home, extending the Racers’ lead to 2 by the end of the first inning.

Despite a double play to start the bottom of the second inning, the Racers managed to get two runners on base before Mercer drove in sophomore outfielder Seth Gardner on a single to right field, adding another run.

Graduate outfielder Brennan McCullough stepped into the box and hit a single of his own, bringing in junior outfielder Cade Sammons for the Racers’ fourth run of the game.

Garner stepped up to the plate and drove a ball deep to left-center field that landed beyond the fence to give the Racers their second home run of the game. That extended the Racers’ lead to seven runs and five in the inning.

The Racers tried to get more runs in the inning after having two more runners on base, but a ground out ended the second inning with the Racers up 7-0.

Junior catcher Taylor Howell led off  the third inning, getting hit by a pitch and stealing second base. Thanks to a double from Gardner, this led to a run for the Racers.

Sammons then drew a walk, and Gardner advanced to third on a wild pitch, which led to another run and RBI for Mercer, as he hit a single to bring Gardner home. With the bases loaded and two outs, the Racers hit a groundout, leading the Bulldogs 9-0 heading into the fourth inning. 

Lack of action from the fourth, fifth and sixth innings brought the game into the seventh inning, where the Racers looked to end early.

The bases were loaded, and there were two outs as sophomore infielder Riley Hawthorne stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. With one swing of his bat, he brought the runner from third to home to give the Racers a 10-0 win in seven innings.

The Racers had 10 runs on 11 hits and no errors in the game. Mercer led the way with three hits and three RBIs. Garner, Hawthorne and Gardner each had two hits, and McCullough and Vogel each had one hit. Murray State pitchers gave up just two hits and four walks.

vs. UT Martin

As the Racers traveled to Martin, Tennessee to take on the Skyhawks, Mercer got right back to work with a single in the top of the first inning. Junior infielder Logan Bland scored on a throwing error on the play, giving the Racers an early lead.

McCullough followed up with a single that brought Mercer around to score and put the Racers up 2-0 in the first inning.

The Skyhawks answered in the bottom of the third with a solo home run from junior catcher Slade Taylor. That was followed by a double from junior utility player Andrew Fernandez that brought home junior outfielder Caleb Hobson to tie the game at two runs apiece.

Senior utility player Jack Culumovic gave UT Martin the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run.

The lead was extended in the bottom of the fifth when junior outfielder Zac Rice scored on a failed pickoff attempt by the Racers. Fernandez then doubled to bring Hobson home, and junior outfielder Will Smith singled to bring Fernandez home. As the inning came to an end, the Skyhawks led the Racers 6-2.

The Racers got a run back in the top of the seventh with Gardner scoring on a throwing error, but the Skyhawks answered in the bottom half of the inning with a sacrifice flyout that brought Smith across the plate to score.

In the eighth inning, the Racers continued their attempt at a comeback as Hawthorne doubled to center field to score a pair of runs. Gardner followed that up with a double that brought Hawthorne around for a run. The Racers were down by one run heading into the ninth inning.

Even though there was some momentum heading into the inning, the Racers failed to get someone on base, falling to the Skyhawks 7-6. 

Murray State totaled 14 hits and four errors in the matchup, while UT Martin had 10 hits and three errors. Mercer had two hits in the game, bumping his season batting average up to .350, the highest on the Racers.

Murray State sits at 20-18 on the season after the two games. The Racers are at a 7-5 record in the MVC after a series sweep against Illinois State—good enough for fourth in the Valley. They have five more three-game conference series and three more one-game series.

The Racers host their next opponent, the Evansville Purple Aces, in a three-game weekend series, with game one starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 21.


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