The top-seeded Mercer Bears jumped out to a 7-1 lead on the way to an 11-6 win over the ninth-seeded VMI Keydets, in game three of the SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.
Offensively, Tyler Tharp had a three-hit game to lead VMI and break the school record for total bases in a single season. Tharp broke Cory Spangenberg’s 140-total base mark that had been sit in 2010.
Madden and JT Thomas had three hits and four RBI apiece to lead the top-seeded Bears.
VMI scored in the first, when Tharp drove in Matt Pita with a RBI single to make it 1-0. Mercer scored the next seven runs, however, and took a 7-1 to the third, when VMI started to peck away.
Peyton Maddox plated a run in that frame with a RBI double, his 16th of the year, and in the fourth, Matt Dunlevy hit a two-run homer to make it 7-4. One out after Dunlevy’s homer, Michael Diodato walked. That put the tying run in the on-deck circle, but Jacob Jaye bounced into a double-play to end the inning.
The Bears then added on in the fifth, with a solo homer by Ryan Hagan and Thomas’ RBI double, and tacked on another in the sixth to increase the margin to 10-4. The Keydets scored two runs in the eighth, but Mercer closer Nick Spear entered and struck out three of VMI’s final five hitters to preserve the win.
An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by the Bears’ Jackson Ware capped the scoring.
On the mound, Eagle (4-4) took the loss after allowing seven of Mercer’s 11 runs. He walked two and gave up six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Austin Cox (4-2) pitched five innings and allowed four runs in a winning effort.
VMI and fifth-seeded Wofford will play an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
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