DELAND, Fla. – Back-to-back RBI singles by Dylan Craig and Daniel Wagner in the bottom of the eighth helped lift Belmont past Mercer 6-5  at the Atlantic Sun Conference baseball tournament on Thursday.
Although it was the tournament opener for both schools, it was an elimination game. Rain on the first two scheduled days of play forced conference officials to alter the format and to make the first two contests single-elimination.
With the victory the fourth-seeded Bruins (29-28) advanced to a second-round matchup with top seed Jacksonville (34-20), 8:30 a.m. (CDT) Friday. Lipsscomb (23-31), the No. 2 seed, is scheduled to face East Tennessee State (25-27) at noon.
Belmont added a third run in the eighth on Brandon McCall’s sacrifice fly.
Mercer (23-23) had gone ahead 4-3 with a run in the top half of the inning and added an unearned run in the ninth. With the tying run at first, though, closer Jimmy Stanley got a fly ball to center and earned his eighth save.
The top three hitters in the Bruins’ lineup – Craig, Wagner and Derek Wiley – accounted for seven of their team’s 11 hits. Wagner had a team-high two RBIs and two stolen bases. Craig, the conference’s freshman of the year, scored two runs.