MOC beats shuffle, tops Erskine
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 26, 2004 1:55 PM
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Mount Olive's baseball team was originally scheduled to play late Saturday afternoon at Spartanburg Methodist.
But in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference baseball tournament, nothing ever goes as planned.
The Trojans didn't seem phased when their Saturday game game against Erskine, orginially scheduled for 4 p.m., was moved to Duncan Park and pushed back to nearly 8 p.m.
When the game finally got underway at 8:50 p.m. following St. Andrews' upset win over top-seeded Pfeiffer, the Trojans' Matt Rickard set the tone in the first inning. Rickard blasted a two-out, three-run home run to deep left field as Mount Olive went on to eliminate Erskine 7-3.
It was the sophomore's second homer of the season.
Trojan left-hander Weston Curles took it from there, tossing a complete game and surrendering only one earned run on eight scattered hits to pick up his fifth win of the season.
"Early on, he was a little too pumped up and throwing a little too hard for him," Mount Olive coach Carl Lancaster said. "Somebody said he was up around 88 miles-per-hour, and he's usually 83-84 at best.
"From about the third inning on he started locating better, and we rode him all the way in."
Mount Olive, who outscored the Flying Fleet 23-6 in two wins over the weekend, entered the CVAC championship game on Sunday as the only team with an unblemished record (3-0) in the tourney.
"They can smell it now. I think that win got us where we needed to be in the regionals, but we definitely want to win this thing now," Lancaster said. "I've had faith in these boys all year."
Erskine hit a number Curles' offerings right on the nose, but most of the time hit it right at a well-positioned Mount Olive player. While the Trojans did commit three errors, two of which led to runs, Mount Olive's defense had a pair of show-stopping moments.
Steve Parrish, known for his hitting prowess, turned in a spectacular diving grab to his right on a sinking line drive by Anthony Passalacqua. Parrish made a perfect throw, nearly doubling off the runner at first.
"That play that Parrish made was made for the ESPN highlight reel. I hope that play doesn't make Stevie think he's a good outfielder now," Lancaster said jokingly.
In the seventh, Rickard turned in a defensive gem at first. Rickard made a diving stab to his right, then tagged the bag with his glove to tally the Trojans' second double play of the game.
Mount Olive turned seven timely double plays in the first three games of the tourney.
"When we come ready to play, we've got the best defense down here," Lancaster said.
At the plate, Mount Olive's crucial balance continued in its third game of the weekend. All but two Trojan starters got hits, one of which was Parrish, who walked twice. Allen Thomas continued his stout tournament with a 2-for-4 effort, driving in two runs in the bottom of the second and scoring twice.
Stephen Nordan added two hits from the No. 2 spot in the order, while T.J. Fly and Matt Johnson both doubled from the bottom of the lineup. Johnson also added a perfect squeeze bunt, the Trojans third in three games, to plate Nick Paniccia in the sixth.
Fly and Johnson are among five Mount Olive starters hitting over .330 for the tournament. Thomas is hitting at a .500 clip, while Craig Hurba is bashing opposing pitching with a .563 average.
Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference Tournament
(at Duncan Park,
Mount Olive 320 001 100 -- 7 9 3
Erskine 001 000 020 -- 3 8 3
Leading hitters - Mount Olive - Allen Thomas 2-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs; Stephen Norden 2-4; Matt Rickard, 1-4, HR, 3 RBI. Erskine - Robby Knapp 2-3, 2B; Jeff Gray 2-4.
E - Hurba; Daniels; Johnson; Cisson 2; Smagla. DP - Mount Olive 2; Erskine 2. LOB - Mount Olive 5; Erskine 6. SH - Daniels; Johnson. SB - Thomas; Paniccia; Daniels.
IP H R ER BB SO
Curles (W, 5-3) 9 8 3 1 3 5
Hunter Gaffney (L) 1 1/3 2 5 5 1 1
Richie Jackson 4 2/3 5 1 1 1 2
Brandon Auten 0 0 1 0 1 0
Matt Baker 0 0 0 0 1 0
Daniel Howard 3 2 0 0 1 1
Auten faced one batter in the seventh; Baker faced one batter in the seventh. WP - Curles; Gaffney. PB - Licari.
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