MOC baseball headed to CVAC title game
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 24, 2006 2:10 PM
WILSON -- The string of zeros across the scoreboard didn't bother Paul Buhrow.
He knew, sooner or later, his Mount Olive College teammates would produce offensively. And he was right.
Dustin Richardson cranked a sixth-inning home run and ignited a nine-run outburst during a two-inning stretch as the nationally-ranked Trojans claimed a come-from-behind 11-5 victory over in-state nemesis Pfeiffer University on Sunday afternoon. Eliminated with the loss, the sixth-seeded Falcons failed to sucessfully defend their Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament championship.
Instead, third-seeded Mount Olive (38-12) opposes fourth-seeded Limestone (S.C.) College at 2 p.m. today on the historic Fleming Stadium diamond for CVAC supremacy. The winner seizes the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional.
Mount Olive claimed a 2-1 split at Limestone last weekend.
"It's a toss-up and I really believe that," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster of the winner-take-all final.
Stagnant from a three-hour wait, the Trojans manufactured just two runs on six hits in the first four innings against the Falcons. Freshman left-hander Nick Daniels yielded three doubles, but Mount Olive couldn't capitalize and left three runners in scoring position.
Daniels retired the side in order in the fifth.
"I think we just came out a little bit flat," said MOC right fielder Graham Wooten. "We finally figured out we're in a game and losing, so we finally got some stuff going. We ran with it from there."
Dustin Richardson jump-started the Trojan sixth with a solo home run -- his second of the tournament and just his third of the season overall.
Wooten laced a base hit into right center field and stretched it into a double. The former Eastern Wayne standout slid safely into second base under a high throw from Pfeiffer center fielder Chris Dove.
"I saw they were kind of slow getting to the ball," said Wooten, who ended the day 2-for-4. "I just wanted to see if I can make something happen ... get everybody fired up."
Jon Skelley drilled the game-tying double into left center field and tallied the game-winning run on Kyle Curtis single to the same spot. Mount Olive led 6-5 and Buhrow probably sighed in relief on the bench.
The Trojans added five runs on two hits and three walks in the seventh. Williams provided a two-RBI double and David Cooper delivered a two-RBI single to cap the inning.
"They've come to play every single day and there were times I hadn't been there for them, and they picked me up," said Buhrow.
Buhrow, a junior left-hander, appeared in the fifth inning for starter Jesse Lancaster. The Florida native surrendered a single to Mike McClain, but Richardson erased him at first base on a pick-off play.
Pfeiffer's batters never solved Buhrow's pitching -- a mixture of fast balls away and sliders down and in on right-handed hitters. The Falcons managed just three hits and put five runners aboard in the final four innings of play.
"I just threw strikes and tried to get ahead," said Buhrow, who tossed 41/3 scorless innings. "I used my slider to get a strikeout or maybe get a double-play ball. We've got a great infield and there is not enough you can say about them.
"You just try to get a ground ball so you can roll two."
Mount Olive collected its 17th win in its last 18 outings and improved to 8-2 in CVAC Tournament play since winning the title in 2004.
MOC 10, Erskine 5
Waiting, according to rock singer Tom Petty, is the hardest part.
The Trojans needed nearly 24 hours to put the finishing touches on its second-round victory against Erskine (S.C.) University.
With two outs and runners at first and second, Richardson stepped into the box with a 3-0 count against Flying Fleet right-hander Russell Reid. Reid fired two quick strikes and drew a roar of approval from the Erskine fans in attendance.
Richardson silenced them with an RBI single to left field and stretched Mount Olive's lead to 10-5.
"I was pretty relaxed and confident," said Richardson, who batted 3-for-4 with three RBIs. "The first one, coach (Rob Watt) gave me the take (sign). The second one was probably my pitch to hit. With 3-2 and two outs, and with runners moving, there was more pressure on him than me.
"I just wanted to come up with a big hit for the guys."
But the Trojans had six outs to record defensively.
Lancaster, the CVAC freshman of the year, appeared in the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced. The former Wayne County Post 11 standout walked the next batter, but induced an inning-ending pop-up to shallow left field.
Robbie Knapp, an all-CVAC first-team selection, doubled to right center in the Erskine ninth. Lancaster remained calm and retired the next three batters he faced for his first-ever collegiate save.
"Getting that one run and momentum gave Jesse a little more confidence on the mound I think," said Richardson, who celebrated his 21st birthday. "He's thrown well with a lot of confidence all year and has been successful doing it."
Starting pitcher Philip Pennington acquired his sixth consecutive victory on the mound after an 0-2 start. The junior right-hander held Erskine to two runs on five hits through six innings of work. He encountered trouble in the seventh and Buhrow -- in relief -- forced an inning-ending groundout after hitting a batter with the bases loaded.
"I felt good through the first five and a quarter innings," said Pennington, who has thrown 12 of 14 scoreless innings against the Flying Fleet in two appearances. "My arm wasn't bothering me, but I ran out of gas ... wasn't even getting it to the plate.
"My off-speed stuff was working good, but my fastball ... I just didn't have command. Pauly stepped up for the last little bit before it got called off (for rain). I'm glad Deucy (Lancaster) stepped up there at the end."
Seven Trojans contributed at least one hit in the two-day affair. Stephen Nordan delivered his second home run of the tournament and concluded the day 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Skelley doubled in a 2-for-4, two-RBI outing and Josh Harrison singled twice in four at-bats.
Notes: Mount Olive is batting .319 (45-of-115) in three tournament games. ... The Trojans have 18 extra-base hits, including seven home runs by five different players. ... Josh Carter has a team-leading 28 putouts, followed by Richardson with 21. ... MOC has outscored opponents 36-16, including a 21-4 advantage in the sixth and seventh innings combined.
MOC 200 310 310 -- 10 13 0
Erskine 100 100 300 -- 5 9 3
Leading hitters -- Mount Olive College -- David Cooper 1-4, 3B, RBI; Stephen Nordan 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Dustin Richardson 3-4, 3 RBI; Josh Harrison 2-4; Jon Skelley 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI. Erskine -- Shelton Cisson 2-5, 2B, RBI; Robbie Knapp 2-5, 2 2Bs, RBI; Juan Adriatico 2-3, 2B, RBI.
DP -- MOC 1, Erskine 1. LOB -- MOC 8, Erskine 10. HR -- Nordan (6). SH -- Curtis. SF -- Richardson, Curtis Bigunet. CS -- Williams.
IP H R ER BB SO
Pennington (W, 6-2) 62/3 8 5 5 4 3
Buhrow 1/3 0 0 0 1 0
Lancaster (S, 1) 2 1 0 0 1 0
Moore (L, 5-2) 3 4 4 4 2 0
Williams 31/3 7 5 5 2 1
Reid 22/3 2 1 0 0 3
WP -- Williams (2). HBP -- Nordan (by Moore), Biguenet (by Buhrow).
T -- 2:57.
Pfeiffer 030 110 000 -- 5 8 1
MOC 110 004 50x -- 11 14 1
Leading hitters -- Pfeiffer -- Kyle Pugh 2-4, HR, RBI; Justin Little 2-4, HR, 3 RBI. Mount Olive College -- Lance Martin 2-5, RBI; Josh Carter 1-5, 2B; Stephen Nordan 1-3, 2B, RBI; Dustin Richardson 2-3, HR, RBI; Graham Wooten 2-4, 2B; Jon Skelley 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Kyle Curtis 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Anthony Williams 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI.
DP -- Pfeiffer 1, MOC 1. LOB -- Pfeiffer 6, MOC 8. HR -- Richardson, Pugh, Little. SH -- D. Brown. SB -- Martin, Richardson. CS -- McClain, Cooper.
IP H R ER BB SO
Daniels 5 9 5 5 2 0
Russell (L, 0-2) 1 2 2 2 1 0
Jordan 0 0 1 1 2 0
McClain 2 3 3 3 1 2
Lancaster 42/3 4 5 5 1 5
Buhrow (W, 3-2) 41/3 4 0 0 0 5
PB -- Little. HBP -- R. Brown (by Lancaster), McClain (by Buhrow), Nordan (by McClain).
T -- 2:24.
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