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Three lessons learned from Mercer Baseball's 2023 Southern Conference tournament

A Ty Dalley grand slam would not be enough in the Bears' tournament game against UNC Greensboro on Friday night in Greenville.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — For a second straight year, the Mercer baseball program made the trip to Greenville as the No. 2 overall seed in the Southern Conference tournament.

For a second straight year, the Bears came up short.

A 16-14 loss to No. 3 Wofford in Mercer’s first game of the week forced the Bears into an elimination game against No. 8 The Citadel on Friday afternoon.

After knocking off the Bulldogs 8-1, Mercer came back less than five hours later to face No. 6 UNC Greensboro in yet another elimination game, but the Spartans proved to be too much. A grand slam from the bat of Ty Dalley in the bottom of the second inning would put Mercer in front 4-3, but a five-run sixth from UNCG was the difference in the Bears’ final game of the year.

Mercer finishes the season with an overall record of 33-25, two wins shy of a 13th consecutive 35-win season.

No. 1 Samford went on to win the Southern Conference tournament with a 5-2 win over Wofford, securing the Bulldogs a spot in the 2023 NCAA Baseball Tournament.

With the 2023 Southern Conference tournament now complete, let’s take a look back with three lessons learned from this week in Greenville.

Lesson #1: The bats can’t do it alone

Dalley’s grand slam was just the last example of Mercer’s bats coming through, only to result in a loss at the end of the night. In their first game of the week against Wofford, the Bears put up 14 runs on 21 hits – and still lost. 

Despite leading the conference with 111 home runs and ranking second with 413 RBI, the Bears finish 2023 with the worst team ERA in the conference (7.35) as well.

Thursday night’s game against Wofford marked the 17th time Mercer pitchers had given up more than nine runs in a game this year.

Lesson #2: Be Georgia’s college baseball team

It’s no doubt that Mercer has earned that title over the last decade, as just one of three Division I programs to have 12 consecutive 35-win seasons. The Bears come up just short of that magic number in 2023, but also finished at just 3-5 against other Peach State programs:

  • Feb. 28 @ Georgia Southern (L, 0-11)
  • Mar. 14 vs. Georgia State (W, 11-9)
  • Mar. 22 vs. Georgia Southern (L, 11-12)
  • Mar. 29 @ Kennesaw State (W, 15-6)
  • Apr. 12 vs. Kennesaw State (L, 5-12)
  • Apr. 19 @ Georgia State (L, 3-13)
  • Apr. 25 @ Georgia Tech (L, 3-6)
  • May 16 vs. Georgia Tech (W, 7-6)

Lesson #3: The future is bright

Look no further than the way sophomore centerfielder and Warner Robins native Treyson Hughes finished the year, riding a 20-game hitting streak with 52 RBI, 11 home runs and a .387 season batting average. 

Preseason SoCon Freshman of the Year Ty Dalley lived up to the hype as well, with 56 RBI and 18 home runs of his own. Couple that together with the resurgence of sophomore outfielder Jackson Cherry and Georgia Tech transfer Bradley Frye, and this team should be expected to come right back to again compete for a Southern Conference crown in 2024.

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