The Mercer Bears boasted a 2-0 all-time record over the No. 1 Florida Gators heading into Tuesday’s midweek matchup. They left McKethan Stadium still undefeated against Florida with a 6-4 win.
The Bears took the lead in the fourth inning and then rode reliever Robert Broom. The junior sidewinder threw a career high in innings (6.0), pitches (106) and strikeouts (12).
“That kid’s good,” Wil Dalton said after the game. “He competes. He did a very good job of mixing his pitches and at the end of the day you just have to tip your hat. He’s good at what he does.”
The game didn’t start well for the Gators. Freshman Hunter McMullen got the start and the first two outs on three pitches. Then he gave up a single and threw 11-straight balls before eventually walking in a run.
The bats responded in a big way. Deacon Liput walked and Nelson Maldonado singled up the middle before Jonathan India grounded into a double play. Dalton picked up India with a two-run home run, his 16th of the season to give Florida the lead. JJ Schwarz picked up the first of two hits on the night and Austin Langworthy walked. Blake Reese drove Schwarz in with a single to left center field, advancing Langworthy to third. Langworthy would score on a wild pitch making the Florida lead 4-1.
Mercer would tie the game in the third inning. RJ Yeager led the frame off with a solo home run to left field. McMullen got one more out but was yanked after fourth walk of the gam. Connor Churchill replaced him and things unraveled from there.
JT Thomas singled and Le Bassett doubled home two to tie the game before Churchill could get out of the inning. Churchill allowed one more run in the fourth to give up the lead before Andrew Baker took over.
Baker was a bright spot for the Gators on Tuesday night. The sophomore threw four perfect innings, retiring all 12 batters he faced in order.
It’s just the second time this season the Gators have dropped back-to-back games and the second midweek game in a row they’ve lost at home.
“I think we just as a team just got beat. That’s not our game. We’re the University of Florida, nobody should just come in here and just roll over us,” Dalton said. “That doesn’t happen. Two games in a row is definitely a bitter taste. Two midweeks in a row. It’s something we have to fix and it starts Thursday.”
The Gators will host the Auburn Tigers on Thursday night for the start of a three-game series. Brady Singer and Casey Mize will earn the starts for their teams and are widely considered to be the first two college pitchers that will be selected in the MLB Draft in June.