Mercer rallies to top Casey 5-3

April 07, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - The middle of the Mercer County lineup doesn't have the power it once did, but the top of the Scotties' batting order is looking a lot more formidable.

Freshman Evan Ethington moved from the No. 9 hole to the top spot and got things going for Mercer in a come-from-behind 5-3 win over visiting Casey County Tuesday.

Ethington and No. 3 hitter John Wickliffe combined for four runs, four hits including a home run, six stolen bases and two walks in seven at-bats to help the Scotties (1-5) to their first win of the season.

"The top of the order is supposed to get the people motivated under you," Ethington said.

"When people get on base, hitters are more motivated."

"He's got a great eye at the plate, he's able to bunt and he's never going to get fooled at the plate," Mercer coach Jeremy Shope said about Ethington.


Ethington was 2-for-3 with two singles, a walk, two runs scored and four stolen bases. Wickliffe reached base all three times with a single, a solo home run and a walk, stealing two bases and scoring two runs.

"(Ethington's) main goal is just to get on base and I try to do everything I can do to knock him in," Wickliffe said.

A new style of play for Mercer

Those two appeared to be the main reasons for, and benefactors of, Mercer's new style of play. For the past couple of seasons, Mercer has been looked to as a power team, one capable of outblasting its opponents.

This season, the focus is on baserunning, pitching and defense, and Shope said the Scotties are playing to their strengths.

"We're going to have to put pressure on defenses," Shope said. "We have a lot of speed in our lineup, we're able to steal some bases and do some bunting.

"We definitely needed a win. We've been knocking on the door for a win for several ballgames. We've played a brutal schedule, but it's going to pay off for us."

"This is big for us," Wickliffe said. "I know we're going to get a whole lot better. We just have to get used to winning."

Casey starts hot

Tuesday was a good start. The Scotties found themselves in a hole early after Casey started off hot.

A leadoff single by Dustin Perkins, a walk to Corey Dial, two wild pitches and a double by Kyle Long led to two runs and an early lead for the Rebels (0-2).

However, Casey would cool down considerably.

The Rebels didn't get another hit in the game, and Mercer's Andy Potts faced only three over the minimum the rest of the way.

Potts finished with five strikeouts and four walks in seven innings while giving up only two hits on 108 pitches. Only two Casey runs were earned.

"I told him he wasn't going to strike everybody out, he's got to pitch and not throw," Shope said about his first-inning visit to the mound.

"That's what he did the rest of the ballgame. He kept the ball down and did a much better job."

Mercer takes lead in third

Ethington scored Mercer's first run on a sacrifice fly by Michael Bottoms in the bottom of the first. Mercer took the lead in the third when Ethington stole home and Wickliffe scored on a single by Justin Morgan.

Casey drew within 3-2 when Dustin Perkins' sacrifice fly scored Andrew Clements in the top of the fifth.

Wickliffe led off the home half of the fifth inning with a solo home run, and Kameron McRay scored from first on a stolen base and two throwing errors later that inning.

"We hit the ball hard. We put it in play," Casey coach Jimmy Brown said. "I told our fellas, they made the plays and we didn't and that's the difference in the game."

Trevor Harrison took the loss for Casey, giving up five runs, four earned, on six hits and three walks. He struck out three Mercer batters.

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