Georgia pounds Mercer

ATHENS – Georgia coach David Perno pulled center fielder Joey Side out of the Diamond Dogs' game in the sixth inning Tuesday night.

By that point, it was too late for Mercer. The Bulldogs, led by the red hot Side, pummeled the Bears 14-2 in front of 1,111 on a beautiful evening in Foley Field.

"They're just better than us," Mercer coach Craig Gibson said.

Nobody moreso than Side on Tuesday. For the second straight game, the junior leadoff hitter started the game with a home run. He finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.

Side has hit safely in eight straight games and is 20-for-37 in that span.

"Hopefully, he'll keep playing that type of baseball," Perno said.

Asked if his team pitched Side the way he had hoped, Gibson responded "obviously not."

Mercer starter Shawn Barrett (3-4) had allowed two home runs in 35 innings entering the game. He gave up that many to Georgia in the first two frames and eventually gave up three and eight earned runs before leaving after four-plus innings.

The Bears were playing their eighth straight road game Wednesday and used two walk-on pitchers after Barrett.

"We just didn't get after it tonight," Gibson said. "I think we're just a little out of gas right now, but we'll get away from here and hopefully regroup Thursday and be ready Friday."

The Bears (25-18) return to Atlantic Sun action Friday and Saturday with a pair of games against Gardner Webb (18-17, 8-7). Mercer is 12-6 in the conference and tied with Jacksonville for the top spot in the league.

"We're a different club with Brantley New on the mound, and we'll be ready Friday at 6 with our season on the line," Gibson said.

Gibson said he's not worried "a bit" that the shellacking will affect his team's confidence the rest of the way. The Bulldogs (23-13, 6-9 SEC) pounded out 19 hits, getting three each from first baseman Josh Morris and second baseman Matthew Dunn.

Jason Fellows, one of seven Georgia pitchers, got his first win of the season.

Mercer tied the game 2-2 in the top of the third when Tattnall graduate Eric Renfroe, the Bears' junior center fielder, hit into a fielder's choice that pushed across Tyler McCarty and allowed Josh Thompson to score on a throwing error.

Georgia immediately pulled back ahead with three runs in the bottom of the third and put the game away with four in the bottom of the fifth, including a tape measure home run by first baseman Josh Morris, to push their lead to 9-2. Barrett left the game after allowing the first three batters of the fifth to reach base.

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