Life without slugger Victor Roache, who could miss the rest of the baseball season because of a broken left wrist, is proving to be rough for Georgia Southern.
GSU lost, 12-4, to Mercer University on Tuesday night in front of a J.I. Clements Stadium crowd of 1,125. It was the Eagles’ second game and second consecutive loss without Roache, a consensus preseason All-American who was injured Saturday night while diving for a ball in right field during the second inning of a nightcap against Radford University. The junior was 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the Eagles’ 7-6 victory in the first game.
GSU lost, 5-4, to Radford on Sunday. Roache on Sunday wrote on Twitter, “Left wrist and lookin like the rest of the season.”
On Monday, Roache wrote on Twitter, “Gotta get surgery on it soon.”
Tuesday night during the Eagles’ game against Mercer, GSU interim sports information director Barrett Gilham said there is no timetable for Roache’s return. Gilham said Roache will be further evaluated by doctors this week. He said GSU’s sports information department will issue its first news release about Roache’s injury when the situation is finalized.
Roache, the Southern Conference’s Preseason Player of the Year, was batting .412 with two home runs and five RBIs. He has been replaced by redshirt freshman Zac Lenns. GSU (5-3) wrapped up its eight-game homestand Tuesday night. Mercer (9-1) was led by right-fielder Logan Gaines, who finished 4-for-5 with three runs batted in to go with a double and home run. He was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Mercer starter Dimitri Kourtis, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound freshman right-hander from Alpharetta, earned the win. Kourtis (2-0) struck out four, walked two and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings.
GSU starter Sam Howard (1-1) registered the loss. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound freshman left-hander made his first start as an Eagle. He struck out three, walked one and allowed five runs (all earned) on five hits in three innings.
In the first inning, Mercer designated hitter Travis Benn hit Howard’s hanging curveball for a two-out, three-run homer to give the Bears a 3-0 lead.
Mercer made it 5-0 in the third inning when Nick Backlund hit Howard’s fastball for a two-out, two-run homer to right field.
In the bottom of the third, GSU’s Ben Morgan doubled, advanced to third base on Scooter Williams’ sacrifice bunt, and scored on Kourtis’ wild pitch to cut the score to 5-1. The Eagles trimmed it to 5-3 when Mercer’s Gaines dropped a routine fly ball.
Gaines’s RBI-double gave Mercer a 6-3 lead in the fifth inning. Backlund’s RBI-double made it 7-3. The Bears tacked on another run to make it 8-3.
In the seventh inning, Mercer added two runs for a 10-3 lead.
Mercer’s Gaines hit a two-run homer off GSU right-hander Josh Stevenson, the Eagles’ fourth of five pitchers in the game, to give the Bears a 12-3 lead in the eighth inning.
GSU cut the score to 12-4 in the bottom of the eighth. Morgan finished 3-for-4, including a double, to lead the Eagles.
GSU’s next game is at 6 p.m. Thursday against North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.
Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.