Mercer falls in first round of state baseball tourney
Mercer County’s second trip to the state baseball tournament didn’t last nearly as long as its first, as the Titans were eliminated in the first round with a 4-0 loss to St. Xavier today at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
St. Xavier (30-11) scored all of its runs in the sixth inning, breaking a scoreless tie and breaking the Titans’ hearts with a titanic two-run home run by Andrew Willinger.
That was too much for Mercer (23-13), because while the Tigers didn’t muster much offense against Mercer pitcher J.T. Long, the Titans did even less against St. Xavier’s Sam Melchior.
They managed only one hit, a leadoff single by Jon Banks in the third inning, and one other base-runner against Melchior, who had eight strikeouts and retired the 22 Mercer batters he faced on only 81 pitches.
Long stranded four runners in the first five innings and two more were caught stealing before St. Xavier got to him in the sixth. After a leadoff walk to Austin Clemons, Willinger hit the seventh pitch of his at-bat halfway up the bleachers in left field.
Josh Osborne followed with a single and pinch-runner David Gahafer scored on an error on pinch-runner Gunner Waggoner’s sacrifice bunt to make it 3-0. McCormick made it to third on the error, then scored on a squeeze bunt by Zach Montomery.
Long allowed four hits and two walks and had two strikeouts in six innings. Reliever Jackson Stoeckinger got the first two outs in the seventh inning, then picked a runner off first base who had reached on an error.
Mercer returned to the state tournament in hopes of replicating its remarkable run last season, when the Titans won three games to reach the finals. The Titans went deeper into the postseason last year than any area team had gone before, and this season they became the first 12th Region team to repeat as champion in 12 years.
Visit amnews.com tonight or see Tuesday’s Advocate for expanded coverage of today’s game.