Trojans ground Flying Fleet 17-3
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 25, 2004 2:01 AM
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Mount Olive coach Carl Lancaster could not point out a single player after the disappointing loss Tuesday night at Barton College that had a solid game.
There were plenty of standouts in the Trojans' Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference first-round contest with Erskine on Friday morning at historic Duncan Park.
Mount Olive (34-15) got out of the gate sluggish, falling behind 2-0 early, but eventually banged out 17 hits and cruised to a 16-3 win.
Ricky Duke, in relief of starter Brian Corbett, tossed five strong innings of long-relief work, yielding four hits and no runs to pick up the win. A right-hander, Duke (10-1) consistently worked the corners of the plate, got ahead and mixed his pitches well.
"Corbett was a little too charged up I think, and sometimes kids in tournaments get a little too pumped," Lancaster said. "I went with Corbett because he is a gamer. In all honesty, we thought Duke was the better match-up against this team though.
"They've got a lot of righty-handers and he's got some awesome off-speed stuff."
Trojan lead-off hitter Allen Thomas set the table with four hits in five plate appearances, scoring three times and driving in two runs.
With Mount Olive leading 6-2, Thomas sparked a nine-run rally in the seventh with a bunt single -- his first of two hits in the inning. He later added a two-RBI single and scored the final run of the seventh as Mount Olive charged to a 15-2 margin.
Erskine (25-24) used five pitchers during the seventh, including starter Jon Merrell (5-6), who picked up the loss.
Craig Hurba busted out of an 0-for-6 slump in the clean-up spot in impressive fashion with a three-hit, six-RBI performance. The senior catcher supplied a game-tying, two-run double in the third and smashed a three-run, line drive home run to left field in the Trojans' huge seventh that went well over the park's 14-foot green wall. It was his 16th of the season as he now has a team-high 73 RBI.
"I just trusted my hands a little bit more and I took a good round of batting practice yesterday," Hurba said. "The home run was one of the harder balls I have hit.
"I'm not really a home-run hitter. Just line drives that happen to go out."
The Trojans got much-needed offensive outputs through the lineup as Kevin Daniels provided two hits and three RBI in the seventh spot. T.J. Fly drove in one run with two hits. All but one Mount Olive starter recorded a hit and each reached base.
The Trojans even got a lift from their bench when Dan Smith smacked a solo home run in the eighth. Lancaster was pleased to see the rest of the order rally around Hurba and Steve Parrish, who also had two hits.
"Our guys in the bottom of the order did some real nice things. We did some sacrifice bunts and some hit-and-run that were money for us," Lancaster said. "We came out prepared and did some very nice things. "When we have won, those other guys have gotten it done for us."
Duke didn't start his outing particularly strong, allowing back-to-back hits to Anthony Passalacqua and Casey Smith. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Lancaster decided to walk Brett Smagala to load the bases. The move paid off as Duke induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Offensively and defensively, the momentum switched heavily in the Trojans' favor from there.
After committing two errors in the first and allowing two runs, Mount Olive played errorless defense behind Duke as well as Phillip Pennington and Blake Montgomery, who pitched one inning of relief work each.
2004 NCAA Division II
Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference
(at Duncan Park, Spartanburg, S.C.)
Erskine 200 000 010 -- 3 7 3
Mount Olive 002 400 910 -- 16 17 2
Leading hitters -- Erskine -- Kris Andersen 2-4, 2B; Wes Edwards 2-4; Robby Knapp 1-3, HR, 2 RBI. Mount Olive -- Allen Thomas 4-5, 2 RBI; Craig Hurba 3-5, 2B, HR, 6 RBI; Steve Parrish 2-4; Kevin Daniels 2-4, 3 RBI; Dan Smith 1-1, HR, RBI; T.J. Fly 2-4, RBI.
E -- Gray, Merrell 2, Paniccia, Corbett. DP -- Erskine 2, Mount Olive 1. LOB -- Erskine 9, Mount Olive 5. SH -- Passalacqua, Knapp, Paniccia, Johnson. CS -- Cisson.
IP H R ER BB SO
Merrell (L, 5-6) 6 10 8 7 1 2
Farley 0 1 1 1 0 0
Auten 0 0 2 2 1 0
Jackson 1/3 3 4 3 1 0
Co. Smith 2/3 2 0 0 0 0
Willingham 1 1 1 1 0 1
Brian Corbett 2 1 2 2 1 1
Duke (W, 10-1) 5 4 0 0 3 3
Pennington 1 1 1 1 0 1
Montgomery 1 1 0 0 0 0
Merrell faced two batters in the seventh.
Farley faced one batter in the seventh.
Auten faced two batters in the seventh.
WP -- Merrell. HBP -- by Corbett (Gray); by Auten (Rickard).
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