03/28/04 — Erskine takes two from Mount Olive

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Erskine takes two from Mount Olive

By David Williams
Published in Sports on March 28, 2004 2:04 AM

DUE WEST, S.C. -- Nationally-ranked Mount Olive College earned a split Saturday afternoon and exited 1-2 against Erskine College in NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference baseball action.

Casey Smith hit three home runs as the Flying Fleet rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat the No. 15-ranked Trojans 10-9 in Friday's opening game. Erskine handed Mount Olive its second straight loss 3-2 in Saturday's first contest, but the Trojans rebounded for a 14-7 decision in the nightcap.

Mount Olive (27-10) tumbled to 12-6 in the CVAC heading into next weekend's three-game home series against Coker (S.C.) College.

Erskine (24-15) knocked off a nationally-ranked opponent for the second consecutive weekend. The Flying Fleet handed Pfeiffer, ranked among the nation's top 10 teams, a one-run loss last weekend. The 2-1 split against Mount Olive moved Erskine to 7-8 in the CVAC.

Mike Dean provided all the offense the Flying Fleet needed in Saturday's first game with a three-run home run in the fourth inning. Jonathan Merrell struck out seven and yielded two runs (one earned) in a complete-game effort.

Allen Thomas emerged the Trojans' offensive leader with two hits and an RBI. Craig Hurba, Stevie Parrish and Matt Johnson each provided singles. Weston Curles suffered the pitching loss, surrendering three unearned runs in a six-inning stint.

Ricky Duke revived Mount Olive in Saturday's second game. The right-handed junior worked six strong innings, striking out one and giving up five runs. Matt Rusch provided three innings of six-strikeout relief.

Hurba paced the Trojans with three hits, including two doubles, in five plate appearances. Johnson turned in a 3-for-6 performance which included a double and four RBI.

Anthony Passalacqua doubled and homered for Erskine in a 4-for-5 showing. Chad Hinson endured the pitching loss after allowing eight runs in 41?3 innings of relief.

Friday afternoon, Mount Olive built a 6-3 lead in the fifth on back-to-back home runs by Parrish and Shawn Warner. Parrish's home run was his 13th, while Warner's was his fourth.

Kevin Daniels singled home a run in the top of the sixth to give the Trojans a four-run lead, but Erskine pulled within 7-4 when Smith led off the bottom of the sixth with his second home run of the game. T.J. Fly and Allen Thomas connected on RBI singles in the top of the seventh to give Mount Olive a 9-4 lead.

Erskine rallied in the bottom of the eighth as Kris Andersen reached base on an error with one out and pinch-runner Mike Dean scored the first of six unearned runs.

Mount Olive starter Brian Corbett was replaced by Jason Sharp, who got the second out on a fielder's choice before Robbie Knapp hit a two-run single on a 3-2 pitch to pull Erskine within 9-7. Smith then followed with his third home run of the game to tie the game 9-9.

Knapp and Smith finished with four hits apiece.

Kevin Mattox followed with a double and scored what proved to be the winning run on Jeff Gray's single. Chad Hinson, Erskine's fourth pitcher of the day, struck out three consecutive batters after issuing a lead-off walk in the top of the ninth to close out the game.