John Keuler lit the fuse for the Mercy offense all season.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
The Our Lady of Mercy Bobcats wrapped up the best baseball season in school history with a 4-2 victory over Temple Friday night.
The win evened the Bobcats record up at 12-12, extending the school record for victories in a season.
Senior John Keuler got it started for the Bobcats, getting on base with a single in the top of the first. Keuler then swiped second base and, on a pair of throwing errors, came around to score for a 1-0 lead.
Kip Darden drove in run number two in the second inning, plating Matt Franks.
Temple would claw back to tie up the game. Things looked bleak for Mercy after a botched call in the third. The Bobcats loaded the bases with one out. Franks grounded the ball, but clearly beat out the throw to first base which would have scored a run. The umpires had other ideas, calling him out.
The Bobcats were unfazed, breaking the game open in the fifth. Keegan Jordan's bunt single got the rally started. Justin Larkin scorched an RBI double to the outfield, scoring Jordan. Larkin would also score on the play thanks to two more throwing errors, giving the Bobcats an insurmountable 4-2 lead.
Thomas Smilie was sharp on the mound for Mercy, pitching five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs. Austin Loper came on in relief for the save.
The win was the end of a record setting season for the Bobcats. Hard work and perseverance went into making it come true. The Bobcats went the full seven innings in all but four games. Just last year that number was fourteen. "I felt like we could compete defensively and offensively if we could just manage the game better from the hill and we started to do that," said Mercy coach Kevin Nix. "We learned how to compete and play with confidence and win. You have to believe you can win and now we do. Our performance finally began to match our potential."
The 2012 team was a great crew for Mercy. Nix cited several key members of the squad. Senior John Keuler led the way in batting average and runs scored, setting the table for the offense. His heady play and switch hitting have earned him a spot on the Emory baseball team next year. Christian Griffith supplied pop and drove in runs. Matt Frank at first base and Chris Wesley catching stabilized the defense. Smilie and and Loper gave the team a formidable duo on the mound.
While this year was nice, the Bobcats have their eyes on the future. "Moving forward and building requires having younger players to replace the ones that leave and maintaining our work ethic and our confidence. We will do the last two, but we will struggle to replace our seniors," said Coach Nix. "Hopefully athletes will see Mercy as a place that they can have success on the diamond and give us a look now."