Kennesaw State was swept in a three-game series with Mercer over the weekend — falling at home on Friday, 10-7, and Saturday, 9-6, before travelling to Mercer on Sunday and losing, 11-5.
The Owls (7-13) have now lost 10 of their last 11 games.
Mercer jumped out to an earlier lead in the series opener on Friday when Kyle Lewis lifted a one-out, two-run home run to right field to give the Bears a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
The Owls responded in the bottom half of the frame as Jeremy Howell singled to left-center and brought in a pair of runs. Two batters later, Brennan Morgan doubled down the left field line to score Howell and put KSU up 3-2.
In the top of the third inning, Mercer’s Danny Edgeworth singled to left and advanced to second on a throwing error, allowing Lewis to advance home and tie the game at 3-3. The Bears retook the lead in the top of the fifth with a Ryan Hagan RBI single that scored Trey Truitt. The Owls tied the game once more in the bottom half of the inning. After loading the bases with two outs, Grant Williams notched an infield single and plated Howell to knot the game at 4-4.
Edgeworth led off the top of the sixth inning with a double to left field. Two batters later, Matt Meeder singled up the middle to score Edgeworth and give the Bears a 5-4 advantage. In the bottom of the sixth, the Owls drew back-to-back one out walks. Alex Liquori connected on an 0-1 pitch and launched a three-run home run to left field, giving KSU a 7-5 lead.
Edgeworth’s RBI single in the top of the seventh inning cut the Bears’ deficit to 7-6.
KSU junior pitcher Richard Lovelady took over on the mound for the Owls in the top of the eighth inning. After loading the bases with one out, Lovelady was replaced in favor of sophomore Logan Hutchinson. Lewis connected on Hutchinson’s second pitch for a grand slam to right center, putting the Bears up 10-7.
In contrast to Friday’s meeting, the Owls struck first on Saturday with back-to-back RBI singles in the bottom of the first inning, taking a 2-0 lead.
Following a pair of singles to lead off the top of the second, Mercer’s Ben Upton reach on a fielding error from KSU shortstop Trevor Brown to plate a run and cut the Owls’ lead to 2-1. An inning later, Mercer’s Charlie Madden notched a two-RBI single to left field to give the Bears the lead. Upton singled to right to score a run and extend the lead to 4-2.
Blaise Lezynski singled up the middle in the top of the fifth inning to plate a run, extending Mercer’s lead to 5-2. KSU answered in the bottom half of the inning with a pair of two-out RBI singles from Griffin Helms and Liquori, respectively. The Owls trailed 5-4 heading to the sixth.
Lewis scored on a passed ball in the top of the sixth inning to extend the Bears’ lead to 6-4. The lead was cut back to one run shortly, however, as Jordan Getzelman led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to cut the Owls’ deficit to 6-5. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Austin Upshaw singled and later advanced to second on a ground out before scoring on a single from Morgan to tie the game at 6-6.
For the second straight game, KSU’ bullpen fell apart in the eighth inning and allowed Mercer to pull away. Trey Truitt led off the inning with a double and later advanced to third on a ground out. Following a walk to put runners on the corners with one out, Lovelady replaced Drew Reeves on the mound. Lovelady forced a groundout, but Truitt scored to put the Bears up 7-6. Brock Turner took over for Lovelady, but was taken out after giving up a walk to load the bases then walking home a run, increasing the Owls’ deficit to 8-6.
Erich Stahl came in for Turner, but continued the same trend as he walked the first batter he faced and brought home a runner to put the Bears up 9-6.
The series shifted to Macon for Sunday’s series finale.
Edgeworth flew out to left in the bottom of the first inning to score Truitt from third and put the Bears up 1-0. In the bottom of the third, Truitt doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single from Ryan Hagan to extend Mercer’s lead to 2-0. Upshaw scored on a sacrifice fly out in the top of the fourth to cut the Owls deficit to 2-1.
Trailing 4-1 in the top of the fifth inning, Howell notched an RBI single to pull the Owls within 4-2. In the ensuing at-bat, Howell launched a two-run home run to right center to the tie game a t 4-4.
Mercer retook the lead in the in the bottom of the fifth with a Madden two-RBI double down the left field line, giving the Bears a 6-4 lead. Leading 7-5, Mercer used a four-run bottom of the seventh to pull away and extend its lead to 11-5.
KSU will return home to take on Georgia Tech on Tuesday, March 22, at 6 p.m.