MACON, Ga. — Mercer hit a pair of home runs and its pitching staff shut down East Tennessee State’s bats Sunday in a 2-0 Atlantic Sun Conference baseball victory that gave the 21st-ranked Bears the series win.
Travis Benn led off the third inning with a solo shot and Nick Backlund went yard to lead off the fourth. Backlund’s home run to left-center was his league-leading 13th of the season.
Mercer starter D.J. Johnson (6-2) pitched 6 2-3 innings and allowed no runs on five hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.
Closer Dimitri Kourtis worked a perfect ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season, tied with ETSU’s Clinton Freeman for most in the A-Sun.
The Buccaneers threatened in the second inning with runners on second and third after hits by Derek Niesman and Alex Reynolds, but Johnson struck out Chris Riopedre to end the inning.
The Bucs advanced a runner to third in the third and seventh innings but could not push the run across.
Reynolds went 2-for-4 to lead ETSU at the plate. Jimmy Nesselt (2-2) went six innings to take the loss.
The Bucs host Jacksonville for a three-game series beginning Thursday to wrap up the regular season. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.