KENNESAW, Ga. - The Mercer baseball team received a sterling pitching performance by sophomore Grant Papelian to secure a 5-1 win over Kennesaw State on Saturday afternoon at Stillwell Stadium.
With the win, Mercer (16-4, 2-0 A-Sun) secures the series win over Kennesaw State and moves into a tie with North Carolina and Virginia for the 10th-most wins in the nation this season.
Saturday was all about Papelian, however, as he set new career-highs with seven innings pitched and five strikeouts to earn his third win of the season.
After Mercer failed to plate a run in the top of the first inning, Kennesaw State lit up the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame. An RBI single by sophomore Chris McGowan made the score 1-0 Owls after an inning of play.
Papelian and Kennesaw State's Travis Dean would match zeros over the next three frames until the Bears got a clutch hit of their own. With junior Michael Massi on second base, senior Logan Gaines roped an RBI single to center to score Massi and tie the game at 1-1.
The Bears lineup continued to wear down Dean, and with his pitch count rising in the top of the sixth, and took full advantage of the tall right-hander starting to tire. An RBI single by junior Austin Barrett and some crafty base running from Barrett induced an error from the Kennesaw State shortstop that allowed himself to score another run to give Mercer a 3-1 lead.
Mercer continued to add on, grabbing some insurance in the top of the eighth courtesy of a pair of RBI singles by junior Nick Backlund and Barrett to increase its lead up to 5-1.
Sophomore Dimitri did the rest from that point forward, throwing a scoreless eighth and ninth for Mercer to secure its second-straight road win.
Barrett led the way for the Bears offensively, going 2-for-4 with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in the win.
Mercer goes for the three-game series sweep of Kennesaw State tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. at Stillwell Stadium.