The Jackets fell to the Mercer Bears on Tuesday night by a score of 4-1. The 23 ranked Jackets, who entered the national rankings this week for the first time this season, are now to 15-10 (5-4 ACC).
“I think [Mercer] pitched very good and I think sometimes it’s a little more difficult to hit when they throw a different pitcher every inning,” said Tech Head Coach Danny Hall. “Dimitri Kourtis, who finished the game for them, has been one of their better guys out of the bullpen the last two years, and he’s hard to hit. He was throwing three pitches for strikes. We’ll tip our cap to them. I thought they pitched well, we just didn’t swing the bats enough to do some damage, and they got some big two out hits. Anytime you get two out hits in a game you usually end up winning.”
Freshman lefty Ben Parr got the start on the mound for Tech and pitched five innings and gave up two runs, only one of them being earned, but was handed his first loss of the season. Parr made his first career start last week against Georgia State where he gave up two runs in five innings and picked up the win. Parr is now 1-1 on the season.
“He did a great job again tonight. He came out, gave up two runs, one scored on that error with two outs. I think he did a nice job and I’m very pleased with the way that he pitched,” Hall said.
Mercer sent five different pitchers to the mound, combining to give up only one run and five hits. Dimitri Kourtis pitched four innings of scoreless ball for the Bears without giving up a single hit.
Junior first baseman Thomas Smith went 2-3 for Tech while extending his hitting streak to twelve games, and freshman shortstop Connor Justus had another productive night reaching once on a walk and having a sacrifice bunt.
“Connor has played very well. He’s really played well defensively at shortstop and he’s got some big hits for us,” Hall said. “He put a good sac bunt down for us to be two guys in scoring position, we just couldn’t get more than one of them in.” Mercer second baseman Michael Massi finished 2-5 with an RBI and first baseman Austin Barrett went 2-3.
Mercer threatened in the top of the second with runners on first and second after back to back one out walks by Parr, but Parr was able to escape the inning after striking out first baseman Austin Barrett and getting left fielder Nate Morehouse to fly out to center.
Mercer struck for one run in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead. Shortstop Matt Meeder led the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Meeder scored on an RBI single to right field by second baseman Michael Massi. Parr got out of the inning after retiring the next two batters.
Tech responded in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game 1-1. Thomas Smith led the inning off with a single followed by another single by junior designated hitter A.J. Murray. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Justus. Freshman right fielder Keenan Innis grounded out to second, but was able to drive in Thomas for Tech’s first run of the night. Freshman third baseman Brandon Gold struck out for the third out of the inning.
Mercer regained the lead in the top of the fifth. Massi doubled with two outs, and then scored when Mercer third baseman Chesny Young grounded out to second and Hyde committed an error allowing Young to reach first and Massi to score.
Mercer extended their lead in the top of the seventh. Sophomore relief pitcher Sam Clay walked Young, who then scored on a single to right field by right fielder Derrick Workman to put the Bears up 3-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh. The Bears added another run in the eighth to increase their lead to 4-1.
Tech heads to Pittsburgh for a three games series beginning tonight. Tech is looking to pick up their third straight series win after defeating North Carolina and Miami the past two weekends.