Florida A&M (7-2) once again used two big innings to beat Mercer (7-2) by a score of 9-6 on Wednesday night at Moore-Kittles Field for their fifth consecutive win. The Rattlers scored five runs in the second inning and four runs in the seventh inning to hand the Bears their second loss of the season and sweep the midweek series.
So far in the 2017 season the Rattlers seem to execute when they need to most. Tied at 5-5 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Dallas Oliver executed a perfect push bunt up the first base line after Austin Michaud worked a leadoff walk, to place runners on first and second with no outs. Freshman Russell Rauh then loaded the bases on another perfectly executed bunt base hit. John Capra then delivered a two strike RBI single to right center field, and Brian Davis cleared the bases with a 3-RBI double off the right field fence, to make the score 9-5.
Mercer made things interesting in the top of the eighth inning as they were able to get the go-ahead runner to the plate. With one out and the bases loaded and one run already in, Rattler reliever Hunter Fillingim entered the game for Thomas Nicoll and rolled a huge ground ball double play to get out of the jam. Fillingim then slammed the door, striking out the side in the top of the ninth to end the game, earning his second save of the season after recording five outs in just four batters faced.
Despite allowing 12 hits on the night, Rattler pitchers were effective at limiting the damage and avoiding the big inning, as Mercer scored one run in six separate frames.
Florida A&M recorded 12 hits as well on the day, their seventh double digit hitting performance in nine games this season. Brian Davis (2-for-4, 2B, 5 RBI, R), John Capra (2-for-3, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB), Kaycee Reese (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI), Russell Rauh (2-for-4, 2 R), and Aubrey McCarty (3-for-5) each had multi-hit performances for the Rattlers.
Trailing 2-0 early in the game, Florida A&M took the lead in the bottom of the second inning, scoring five runs on four hits and three Mercer errors. Wilkinson reached on an error by the shortstop, then the Rattlers delivered four consecutive singles. Kaycee Reese’s RBI single up the middle and Brian Davis’ two-RBI single to right field put the Rattlers in front by a score of 3-2. Florida A&M added two more runs on an error and a bases loaded hit by pitch, making the score 5-2.
Thomas Nicoll (1-1) earned the win after throwing one inning and allowing one earned run. Christian Vann (0-1) suffered the loss for the Bears, allowing three earned runs in 2.1 innings.
The Rattlers will host East Tennessee State at Moore-Kittles Field this weekend for a three-game series. Friday’s game will begin at 4:00 PM while Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests are slated for a 1:00 PM start.