Trojans salvage split
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on February 13, 2006 2:21 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- At least they got two games in.
It would have been tough for the visiting Shippensburg (Pa.) University Red Raiders to have made the 800-mile roundtrip to North Carolina for nothing.
When Saturday's rainout forced a pair of seven-inning games on Sunday, Mount Olive College's shaky outfield defense helped Shippensburg start its season off with a win in game one.
Despite playing outdoors for the first time in 2006, the Red Raiders (1-1) handled the cold and blustery conditions better than their local counterpoints in the opener, as an error and handful of misplays resulted in a six-run second inning for the visitors.
"That was obviously the difference in the ballgame," Mount Olive coach Carl Lancaster said.
The Trojans chipped away with two runs in the second and three in the fifth, but it wasn't enough as Shippensburg won 9-6.
In the second game, Mount Olive got all the offense it needed in the bottom of the first, scoring two runs without the benefit of a hit.
Solid pitching from Paul Burrow, Donald Huff and Justin Staatz limited the Red Raiders to just one run -- a solo homer by Eric Dezell in the second -- for a 5-1 win.
While Lancaster wasn't happy with the play of outfielders Josh Harrison (left), Mike Kicia (center) and Kyle Curtis (right) in the first game, and lamented a baserunning miscue by Harrison in that game's fifth inning, he was glad to leave the field on a winning note.
"We were able to salvage a split," Lancaster said. "And I guess people would say that's good."
While the 29th-ranked Red Raiders gave Mount Olive its first loss of the season, the 5-1 Trojans are in better shape than a year ago, when they lost 3-of-4 to Shippensburg to fall to 3-6 last Feb. 13.
"We knew we were going to lose sometime," Lancaster said. "But I really felt like today we were capable of winning two ballgames against a good club."
After collecting 11 hits -- 10 against Mount Olive hurlers Phillip Pennington (who lasted just 12/3-innings and took the loss) and Blake Montgomery -- in game one, the Red Raiders couldn't sustain a rally in game two. They didn't have two runners on base with fewer than two outs in the entire game.
Despite the anemic offense, Shippensburg was still in the game when Harrison came up in the third inning with the score 3-1 and Josh Carter on first. Harrison drove a pitch from Ross Buckwalter into right-center to score Carter. It was Harrison's fifth RBI of the day and 10th of the season.
Though the sophomore outfielder is leading the Trojans with a .515 average and five extra-base hits, he admits his strong start has been a surprise.
"I struggled until the season started," he said. "I had no pop on the ball, and I wasn't satisfied with myself at all. All of a sudden it just clicked when the games started."
The run gave Donald Huff -- who started the fourth in relief of Burrow -- a 3-run cushion, but he didn't really need it. The senior righthander from Florida -- who said he hadn't pitched on a day colder than 65-degrees before coming to Mount Olive -- upped his strikeout streak to six when Ryan Bucher whiffed to open the fourth.
Huff pitched three shut-out innings while striking out four and only facing 10 batters. He earned the win and now leads the team with nine strikeouts.
"I just wanted to keep the ball down and change speeds," Huff said. "I wanted to get some work in before Pfeiffer (University)."
The Trojans travel to Misenheimer this week for games on Tuesday and Wednesday against their CVAC foe. The conference schedule starts a week earlier this season, and Lancaster felt the change handicapped his bullpen on Sunday.
The 20-year veteran coach explained that he might have tried to quash the Shippensburg rally early in the first game my bringing in a reliever if a non-conference game was on the horizon. Instead he let Pennington face seven batters -- giving up six runs -- in the top of the second.
"Rather than running our guys out there who we feel can beat anybody, we're trying to pitch by committee," he said. "All of a sudden we get back in the game, but we don't want to use Staatz and Huff and still lose."
Lancaster credited junior righty Daniel Wood with keeping the Trojans in contention during the first game. Wood relieved Montgomery -- who had allowed three runs during the fifth and sixth -- and recorded six outs without giving up a run.
Consequently, the Trojans' pitchers are rested for Pfeiffer.
"We feel like our top guys are ready to go Tuesday and Wednesday because they didn't have to throw a lot," Lancaster said.
Shippensburg 060 021 0 -- 9 11 2
Mount Olive 021 030 0 -- 6 7 1
Leading hitters -- Shippensburg -- Jeremy Hess 2-4, 4 RBI, 2 runs; Adam Caron 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs. Mount Olive -- Josh Harrison 2-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs; Graham Wooten 1-3, HR, RBI.
IP H R ER BB SO
Starner (W, 1-0) 4 3 3 3 2 4
Slatcoff 2 4 3 3 0 0
Wright (S, 1) 1 0 0 0 0 0
Pennington (L, 1-1) 12/3 6 6 6 1 2
Pelech 21/3 0 0 0 0 2
Montgomery 1 4 3 3 1 0
Wood 2 1 0 0 0 1
Shippensburg 010 000 0 -- 1 6 2
Mount Olive 211 001 x -- 5 4 2
Leading hitters -- Shippensburg -- Eric Dezell 1-3, HR, RBI. Mount Olive -- Josh Harrison 1-2, RBI; Josh Carter 2BB, 2 runs; Mike Kicia 1-3, RBI, run.
IP H R ER BB SO
Buckwalter (L, 0-1) 4 1 4 3 4 1
Boylan 2 3 1 1 1 1
Burrow 3 5 1 1 0 4
Huff (W, 2-0) 3 1 0 0 0 4
Staatz 1 0 0 0 1 1
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