With freshman J.T. Long taking the mound for Mercer County, coach Jeremy Shope knew the Titans needed to get it done at the plate in its 12th Region Tournament opener Monday.
Shope got what he needed and then some, as Mercer smacked six home runs and pounded out 17 hits in a 19-8, five-inning win over Lincoln County at Southwestern.
Addam Gooch had three of those home runs, and Clay Cinnamon, Tyler Devine and Colin Buckner also went deep for Mercer (23-9), which got its highest run total of the season and now plays Pulaski County (21-9) at 8 p.m. today in the semifinals. Pulaski beat Wayne County 10-9 in nine innings.
“We started a freshman out there. We had to throw him into the fire, but I felt it was our best opportunity to win the region,”¿Shope said. “We told our guys we needed to win it at plate, and boy, did our guys show up and hit. It’s amazing. We had 17 hits in five innings, six of those home runs.”
It was just a 10-8 game, however, before Mercer broke the game open in the fourth and fifth innings.
After the Titans scored three times in the fourth, Matthew Honchel led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk. Devine then drilled a two-run home run to center field, and Buckner followed with a solo blast.
After Anthony Patterson reached on an error, Seth Heath doubled and Gooch capped off his big night with a three-run home run to left field to end the game.
Gooch had solo home runs in the second and third innings as Mercer took a 10-3 lead. Cinnamon had a three-run shot in the Titans’ five-run second.
Chase Pemberton and Ryne Otto doubled for Lincoln (14-20).
12th Region Tournament
Lincoln County 300 50 — 8 8 3
Mercer County 253 36 — 19 17 2
W—Long. L—Holbrook. 2B—Pemberton (LC) Otto (LC), Patterson¿(MC). 3B—Patterson (MC). HR—Gooch (MC)¿3, Cinnamon (MC), Devine (MC), Buckner (MC).