On a night when Samford and Mercer combined for 28 hits and 13 home runs, it still took some clutch pitching by Ben Petschke for the Bulldogs to pull out a 12-11 Southern Conference victory on Friday night.
With the win, Samford clinches, at worst, a share of the regular season SoCon title and the top seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament. A win on Saturday, in the regular season-ending game that begins at 1 p.m. CT, would give the Bulldogs the outright SoCon title.
Samford (31-22 overall, 14-6 SoCon) wouldn't be sitting in that spot without some gutsy pitching by Petschke for the second consecutive game. He entered the game in the eighth inning with runners on second and third and the Bulldogs leading 12-9. He allowed back-to-back RBI singles but finally escaped the jam with a strikeout, and the Bulldogs carried a 12-11 into the ninth inning.
In the ninth, Petschke struck out the first two batters before he hit a batter and allowed a single by Bradley Frye to put runners on the corners. Frye stole second base to put the potential winning run on second base. Petschke got two quick strikes on Ty Dailey before throwing three consecutive balls. After a foul ball to extend the at-bat, Dailey hit a grounder to Stephen Klein at first base for the final out of the game. Petschke got his 13th save of the season and second of the series.
It was a fitting ending to a wild game that included eight home runs by Samford. John Anderson hit two home runs, giving him a SoCon-best 20 on the season, and Josh Rodriguez had two home runs and five RBI. The Bulldogs also received home runs by Jayden Davis, Lucas Steele, Garrett Howe and Andrew Bennett. Davis' home run was his only hit of the night, but it was enough to extend his hitting streak to 36 games.
Mercer (32-22 overall, 13-7 SoCon) trailed 7-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning, and seven of the Bears' runs came in the seventh and eighth innings.
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