03/15/06 — Trojans beat up on Bulldogs

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Trojans beat up on Bulldogs

Published in Sports on March 15, 2006 2:44 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Blonds have more fun, or so the saying goes.

But that should be amended. Everyone knows it's natural blonds who have more fun.

Just ask Goldsboro native and Mount Olive College baseball player Josh Carter.

Carter, blond thanks to his genes, showed Bryant University's bottle blonds that natural is better.

The 6-2, 225-pound designated hitter rang up four RBIs in the Trojans' 20-7 thrashing of the Bulldogs on Tuesday night at Scarborough Field.

A noticeable number of Bryant's players have dyed their hair blond this season, but it hasn't resulted in much fun, as the Bulldogs are now 2-10.

Carter -- who was just named the CVAC's player of the week for his 9-for-11, 10 RBI weekend against Anderson -- continued his tear with two doubles and a solo homer against Bryant.

When teammate Josh Harrison nabbed that honor earlier this season, he quickly saw his average tumble.

"I just found that out before the game," Carter said. "And Harrison came up to me and said, 'I hope the jinx doesn't get you.'"

He might have felt jinxed after his first at-bat, when he drilled a ball that was caught at the warning track. But the next time up, Carter's fifth homer of the season directly followed Lance Martin's two-run shot, and gave the Trojans (17-8) a 4-0 lead with no outs in the bottom of the third. Graham Wooten scored later in the inning to provide spot-starter Daniel Wood with a 5-0 lead heading into the fourth.

While waiting to congratulate Martin, Carter decided to swing at Bryant starter Eric Loh's next pitch.

"Because nothing can be worse than throwing two pitches and watching both of them leave," Carter said. "And he threw me a change-up down. I got a little bit out on my front foot, but got enough help from the wind to get it out."

Carter, who has played in Scarborough Field since his American Legion days, said he's never seen the wind come in to play as much as it has in 2006.

With five errors to the Bulldogs' two, it might look like the Trojans had their share of trouble with the swirls, but only one of Mount Olive's errors came on a ball hit in the air. On the other hand, a handful of Trojan extra-base hits came on routine fly balls that Bulldog outfielders lost in the wind.

"We didn't play very good on that side of the ball," said Bryant coach Jamie Pinzino.

With the lead, Wood sliced through the heart of the Bulldogs' lineup in the fourth. He struck out the side, sitting down Paul Novakowski, Mike Rocco and Chris Brown in order.

It's easy to pitch with a 5-0 lead.

"You can relax, you can just set in," Wood said. "You don't have to worry about making a mistake."

The quick half-inning gave Mount Olive's hitters another crack at Loh, who was tiring after facing eight batters in the third.

After Jesse Lancaster flied out to start the bottom of the fourth, six straight batters reached base, resulting in four more runs and a 9-0 lead.

When Wood retired his seventh-straight batter to end the fifth, it looked as if the Trojans would get an easy win, but he tired in the sixth.

Wood allowed three straight singles to start the inning and Adam Rourke scored to make it 9-1. With two on, cleanup hitter Novakowski launched a homer to dead center, and the game was suddenly in doubt.

It was Wood's first start of the season after six appearances in relief.

"It was obvious that when he got tired, he tried to throw harder and he got behind in the count," said Mount Olive coach Carl Lancaster. "That's when they put four on him."

Wood, who found out he would be Tuesday's starter on Sunday, said he and pitching coach Aaron Akin set his pitch limit at 80. He finished the inning at 83 pitches without allowing another run.

"He was good tonight," Lancaster said. "He was as good as we've had for five innings."

Coming into the season, Wood wasn't supposed to start. But plans change. Due to the Trojans' fourth-place standing in the CVAC, Lancaster said he doubts that his squad will get an at-large bid into the NCAA regionals. Consequently, Mount Olive must win the conference tournament to move into the postseason. If that's going to happen, said Lancaster, pitchers like Wood need to get ready. Tuesday's performance gave the coach a reason to be optimistic about his pitching staff.

Something else that made Lancaster smile was his team's ability to hit with two strikes.

"Out hitters understood tonight that with two strikes, you don't have to overswing and try to kill the baseball," he said. "We've preached that all year."

The Trojans' key two-strike hit came off the bat of Kyle Curtis with runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. The rightfielder's single scored two to make it 11-4 and launched the Trojans on an eight-run rally. By the time the inning concluded, 12 batters had come to the plate and Mount Olive led 17-4.

Lancaster was pleased.

"Right now we're playing the best ball we've played," Lancaster said. "Hopefully we'll continue to do that."

Bryant 000 004 111 -- 7 11 2

Mount Olive 014 408 12x -- 20 20 5

Leading hitters -- Bryant -Paul Novakowski 1-4, HR, 3RBI; Pat McKenna 3-5, HR, 2RBI; Nick Tucarella 3-4, RBI. Mount Olive -- Josh Carter 3-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs, 2 doubles; Lance Martin 2-3, HR, 2RBI, 3 runs; David Cooper 3-5, 3 runs; Dustin Richardson 4-5, RBI; Kyle Curtis 2-4, 3RBI, Graham Wooten 2-4, 3 runs, triple, RBI.



Eric Loh (L, 1-3) 32/3 12 9 8 1 0

Ben Conn 2 1 3 3 3 1

Steve Salerno 1/3 5 5 5 0 0

Chris Foundas 2 2 3 1 2 2

Mount Olive

Daniel Wood (W, 2-1) 6 7 4 4 0 5

Blake Montgomery 3 4 3 2 0 3