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Mercer bats destroy old diamond truth

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Bearcat defense does not help in season opener

By John Herndon

Mercer County took the oldest truth in baseball and made it a lie Monday night.

You know the old saying, “Good pitching beats good hitting.”

It did not look like that was the case for Anderson County as Mercer, ranked 19th in the state, pounded the Bearcats 16-10 in the season opener.
“Our pitchers didn’t throw that badly,” Barnes said. “But Mercer is such a good offensive team that you can’t give them outs.”

Mercer pounded 19 hits, eight going for extra bases.

Anderson repeatedly gave the Titans outs, with five errors and a passed ball. “I don’t know how to explain it,” said Barnes, who is expecting defense to be his team’s strong suit.

The Titans reached Anderson starter Landon Case for an unearned run in the top of the first when Austin Horn led off with a single, went to third on a botched pickoff attempt then scored when Matthew Honchel ripped a one-out single to left field.

Anderson answered, though when Logan Woodside deposited Mercer starter Jon Banks’ first pitch of the season over the left field fence to tie things.

Mercer, however, manufactured six unearned runs in the top of the third, taking advantage of a passed ball and two Anderson errors. Tyler Devine and Collin Buckner both doubled in a run, but designated hitter Seth Heath delivered the big smack, a two-run single. Mercer sent 11 batters to the plate in the uprising.

Anderson clawed its way back when Case drove in Logan Woodside with a third-inning ground out then drew within 7-5 in the fourth when Woodside drew a bases-loaded walk then Clay Guffey ripped a single up the middle to score Granville Hayes and Zach Taylor.

Mercer responded with two more in the top of the fifth, both scoring on Clay Cinnamon’s double to right. Cinnamon, however, was cut down trying to stretch it into a triple to end the inning.

But Anderson was not through, turning two walks and two Mercer errors into five runs on three hits. The Bearcats tied it as Josh Brown and Hayes scored when Devine misplayed Guffey’s grounder at third, then took the lead when Case singled, scoring Woodside, who had been intentionally walked.

Mercer went back in front in the top of the sixth as Honchel led off with a triple, then scored when Devine’s bloop was just out of Case’s reach at short. Devine came around when Heath delivered a two-out, two-strike hit off Steven Watts for the go-ahead run.

Watts gave up just one run, but still took the loss. Brooks Meredith got the win for Mercer in relief.
The Titans reached Clay Guffey for six runs in the seventh after he had turned a spectacular double play on Cinnamon’s sacrifice bunt attempt.

However, Honchel, the next batter, drilled home run well over the right field fence to start the uprising.

“Give Mercer credit,” Barnes said. “They are an outstanding offensive team.”