02/08/04 — MOC baseball splits home opener with Catawba

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MOC baseball splits home opener with Catawba

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 8, 2004 2:01 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Veteran Mount Olive College baseball coach Carl Lancaster hasn't quite figured out if Ricky Duke will crack the starting pitching rotation.

Duke lobbied his case Saturday afternoon. The right-handed junior scattered six hits in a six-inning stint, helping the Trojans dump Catawba 9-4 in the second game of a doubleheader at Scarborough Field.The Indians rallied to win the opening game 7-6.

"We wanted him to come out of the pen," a grinning Lancaster said of Duke. "But by God, the rascal has got a good slider. His fast ball runs in and that's obvious because he hit five guys, but he wasn't throwing it at anybody.

"He's just got so much movement against right-handers."

Duke faced 29 batters in the regulation seven-inning game and struck out five. The Indians (2-1) picked up four earned runs on Zach Evans' two-run single and Aaron Rimer's pinch-hit, two-run home run. Other than that, Catawba didn't generate much offense on a breezy and cool afternoon.

Duke forced eight ground-ball outs and four infield pop-ups. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound hurler escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth thanks to T.J. Fly's one-handed grab of a fly ball to short center field.

"We had some easy outs with him out there," Lancaster said.

The Trojans gave Duke a working margin in the second, scoring six runs (five earned) against Catawba left-hander Thomas Wilson. Craig Hurba provided a two-RBI single. Alan Thomas, Mike Maffucci and Nick Paniccia each collected an RBI during that stretch.

Wilson (0-1) surrendered a single run in the third and departed after the fourth inning. Left-hander Brian Benton produced two innings of four-hit relief and yielded an earned run in the sixth inning.

The Indians' Rimer jacked his two-run homer in the sixth, trimming Mount Olive's lead in half at 8-4. Duke buckled down and retired the final five batters he faced, including two strikeouts.

"We really haven't decided what we're going to do with him yet," Lancaster said of Duke. "We're feeling through the pitching staff. We've got one other kid we feel like is going to be in our rotation, but his arm isn't ready to go real far yet."

Stephen Nordon belted his first home run of the season, a two-run blast in the first inning of the opening game. Hurba ripped a two-run shot, also his first of the season, in the third inning. The Trojans owned a 5-0 lead and left-hander Brian Corbett appeared to be on cruise control. The junior from Marion, S.C., allowed three hits in the first four innings and struck out two Indian batters.

But Corbett quickly lost the momentum. He got called for a balk after picking off a runner at first in the fifth. What would have been the third out quickly changed the game's complexion. The Indians clicked off four runs, including Jeff Boyles' two-run home run. Boyles was the No. 9 hitter in Catawba's lineup.

"He did the same thing last week," Lancaster said of Corbett. "He hit a wall there at about 50 pitches and we're trying to extend him a little bit at a time. (Matt) Rusch made some good pitches, but then again, he wasn't consistent with his good pitches.

"He'd hit the knees with a good fastball and then he'd get it up in a zone."

Catawba's Andrew Daywalt, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, launched a two-run home run in the sixth. A hit batter led to the Indians' seventh run after Matt Baker drilled a two-out double down the left-field line.

"Their number eight and nine hitters killed us," Lancaster said.

The inability to capitalize with runners on base haunted the Trojans, too.

Mount Olive's Matt Johnson chased an outside breaking ball and struck out, ending the third inning and leaving the bases loaded. Lancaster said his team could have blown the game open at that point. In the sixth, T.J. Fly got picked off at second base. Had he not made the base-running mistake, Hurba's lead-off home run in the seventh could have been the game-tying hit that inning.

"We just never recovered," Lancaster said.

Former Princeton High School pitcher Nick Mayle got the win for Catawba in rfelief of starter Zack Snyder. Mayle pitchesd three scoreless innings, giving up four hits while striking out one and not walking a batter.

The Trojans return to action today with a doubleheader against Lenoir-Rhyne. Senior left-hander Michael Erexson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start game one and Josh Clow (0-0, 9.00) gets the nod for game two.

Game 1

Catawba 000 042 1 -- 7 9 0

Mount Olive 212 000 1 -- 6 9 1

Leading hitters -- Mount Olive -- Alan Thomas 2-3, 2B; Stephen Nordon 1-2, HR, 2 RBI; Craig Hurba 3-4, 2 HRs, 3 RBI. Catawba -- Matt Baker 3-4, 2 2Bs, RBI; Andrew Daywalt 1-2, HR, 2 RBI; Jeff Boyles 2-3, HR, 2 RBI.


Catawba (2-0)

Snyder 3 4 5 5 5 4

Mayle (W, 1-0) 3 4 0 0 0 1

Evans 1/3 1 1 1 1 0

Hatley (S, 1) 2/3 0 0 0 0 2

Mount Olive (2-2)

Corbett 4 2/3 6 4 3 2 3

Rusch (L, 0-1) 2 1/3 3 3 3 0 2

WP -- Snyder 2. HBP -- Lefko (by Rusch). BK -- Corbett.

Game 2

Catawba 020 002 0 -- 4 6 1

Mount Olive 161 001 x -- 9 15 0

Leading hitters -- Mount Olive -- Alan Thomas 3-5, 2B, RBI; Dan Smith 2-4, RBI; Mike Maffucci 2-4, 2B, RBI; Nick Paniccia 3-4, RBI. Catawba -- Thomas Giles 2-2; Aaron Rimer 1-1, HR, 2 RBI.


Catawba (2-1)

Wilson (L, 0-1) 4 11 8 6 3 3

Benton 2 4 1 1 1 1

Mount Olive (3-2)

Duke (W, 1-0) 6 6 4 4 0 5

Montgomery 1 0 0 0 0 1

HBP -- Baker (by Duke), Daywalt (by Duke), Lefko (by Duke), Mt. Smith (by Duke), Giles (by Duke).