Mercer, Mercer, Mercer. The Bears are the national leader in wins and have cracked the top 25 in the Baseball America poll. I don’t care what anyone says, no one saw Mercer being this good this year. Danny Edgeworth is batting a robust .378 with 39 RBIs, JT Thomas has hit a team-high 12 homeruns and Jackson Ware leads the nation with 19 sacrifice bunts on the season.
The only blemish on the Bears heading into the stretch run is starting pitching. All three major starters (Ryan Askew, Kevin Coulter, Austin Cox) have an ERA over 4.00 and tend to give up a few longballs. It is a good thing that reliever Robert Broom has been outstanding in giving up a .181 batting average on the season in 47 innings pitched.
Broom is not the only option as the top four relievers for Mercer have a combined 18-1 record on the season. If they get to the sixth inning with a lead, it is lights out. Mercer is 21-0 on the season when taking a lead into the sixth.
They will likely get a tough seed in a tough regional when the postseason rolls around, but it would not surprise me to see Mercer slug their way to the Super Regionals.
Current Top 25 Programs (Baseball America Poll):
- Long Beach State (25-13, #13): We have a new top ranked Forgotten 5 program in the Dirtbags. All they do is continue to run through conference play and could be pushing a top five ranking in the next few weeks. April has been kind to them in going 11-2 so far this month. A visit from UCLA and a trip to UC Davis should be a good litmus test for a possible top five ranking.
- Cal State Fullerton (24-14, #14): Every time you start to think you have the Titans figured out, they go out and lose two of three to Cal Poly. That dropped them out of the top ten nationally and to second place in the Big West behind Long Beach State. If Fullerton does not figure out how to start winning on the road (9-10 road record), their trip to the NCAA Tournament could be very short-lived.
- Houston (27-12, #20): The Cougars took a bit of control in the AAC race in taking two of three versus surprise co-leader Tulane to remain in the top 25 poll. The Cougars showed some grit in overcoming Trey Cumbie’s roughest start of the season and pulling out an 8-7 win. If MLB prospect Seth Romero is able to get his head on straight and get back on the field, Houston could be a pick to make it to super regionals or even the College World Series this postseason.
- Mercer (35-7, #24): I’ll be the first in line to admit I laughed a bit at East Carolina when they were swept by the Southern Conference program early in the season. Mercer is getting the last laugh with a 35-7 record and sparkling 14-1 conference record. It is tough to tell just how good they can be, but they beat Georgia twice, swept ECU, and get a shot a Florida State in a couple of weeks. It’s nice to welcome Mercer to the Top 25.
Others to watch:
- South Florida (32-8), Central Florida (29-12), VCU (25-15), Florida Gulf Coast (28-15), Southern Miss (30-12, #25 D1Baseball.com/#25 Coaches Poll), Florida Atlantic (25-13), Old Dominion (28-12), Wright State (27-12), Illinois-Chicago (28-9), Kent State (24-12), Missouri State (27-13), San Diego State (29-12), Tennessee Tech (30-12), Morehead State (27-12), Navy (33-13), McNeese State (28-11), Jackson State (31-12), Oral Roberts (28-11), Louisiana-Lafayette (26-14-1, #24 D1Baseball.com), Coastal Carolina (24-15-1), San Diego (27-11), Loyola Marymount (27-13), Saint Mary’s (26-13).
- Caleb Webster, UNCG: .432
- Bradley Haslam, Air Force: 69
- TJ Nichting, Charlotte: 69
- Niko Hulsizer, Morehead State: 19
On Base Percentage:
- Keston Hiura, UC Irvine: .527
- Jackson Ware, Mercer: 19
- Drew Butler, Campbell: 31
- Jake Burger, Missouri State: 53
- Gavin Wallace, Fairfield: 6
- Brandon Marsonek, Alabama A&M: 32
- Brandon Marsonek, Alabama A&M: 104
Strikeouts Per Nine Innings:
- Seth Romero, Houston: 15.43