Sarah Tuttle, Web Editor
The Samford baseball team had another tough series this past weekend against the Mercer Bears. The Bulldogs (19-14) were swept by the Bears, who are the Southern Conference’s first-place team and defending regular-season champion.
Mercer (28-6) also holds the nation’s eighth-best record in Division I.
Last Friday, the Bulldogs came up short with a 4-2 loss. Bulldogs senior pitcher Mikhail Cazenave made a solid start. Cazenave allowed three earned runs on eight hits and finished with four strikeouts.
Junior pitcher Josh Rick took the mound in the fifth inning and finished the game, allowing one run on two hits. Offensively, senior outfielder T.J. Dixon helped Samford generate some offense. However, the Bulldogs were never able to take the lead.
“Friday night was the best game of the series for us,” said Dixon. “We held them close the entire time, but after they scored three runs early, it made it tough to match them with their best pitcher on the mound.”
Saturday’s matchup proved to be another tough defeat. Samford outhit Mercer, 12-8, but left a season-high 13 runners on base. That inability to plate run led to the 9-6 loss.
Samford sophomore outfielder Jordan Fucci contributed to this offense, batting 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. This included Fucci’s third home run of the season.
Dixon also produced offensively, finishing 2-for-5 at the plate with a run scored.
“Their pitchers attacked the strike zone with good moving fastballs, and it caused us to beat a lot of balls into the ground,” Dixon said. “Our biggest struggle was on the mound.”
On Sunday, Mercer completed the series sweep with a 7-1 victory. The Bulldogs struggled both offensively and defensively in the matchup. Samford sent nine pitchers to the mound.
“I am a bit disappointed with the weekend, especially coming into to the series with a lot of momentum after defeating VMI last weekend,” Dixon said. “At least we know if we play our best baseball come May in the tournament when it matters most, we can beat those guys.”
Samford sustained another setback on Tuesday against Auburn. The Bulldogs fell at home, 16-15, to extend their losing streak to four games.
Samford trailed 16-9 after five innings, but rallied late. Freshmen Taylor Garris and Ayrton Schafer belted seventh-inning home runs to cut into Auburn’s lead. Garris’ three-run blast trimmed the deficit to four, and Aytron’s solo dinger added to the indention.
Garris connected on a two-RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. But the Bulldogs couldn’t muster any runs in the final frame, which brought the score to its final.
Garris finished the game 2-for-4 with five RBIs. Dixon, who plated three RBIs, roped a team-high four hits.
The Bulldogs will look to get back on the winning path tonight at 6 p.m. as they open a three-game series against the Citadel.