05/08/06 — Old friends back together in LCC-MOC exhibition

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Old friends back together in LCC-MOC exhibition

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 8, 2006 2:20 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Big games await Mount Olive and Lenoir Community College's baseball teams.

The main goal on Saturday -- when the two teams competed in an exhibition contest -- was getting prepared for what both hope will be lengthy postseason runs.

Catching up with some friends at Scarborough Field made the weekend even more rewarding.

Eight players combined on both teams with Wayne County roots (four for MOC and four for LCC) are key contributers in 2006 for their respective, nationally-ranked teams. If it weren't for a handful of injuries on both sides, those numbers would be greater.

Seven of the eight saw action on Saturday, while Lancers' starting pitcher and Eastern Wayne graduate, Mike Oglesby, was in the middle of his first inning of work on Friday night when rain forced the game to be moved back a day.

Some of these players spent most of their young baseball careers on the same lineup cards -- from Babe Ruth all the way up to Post 11 American Legion. Saturday, they may have been in different dugouts, but the bonds remain strong.

"It was weird being in this first base dugout," Vinson said. "When Jesse (Lancaster) was at the plate, I was obviously pulling for my pitcher, but I didn't want to see him (Jesse) do bad either."

Lancaster, a freshman at MOC and also a former Warrior, was hoping he would get a chance to pitch against his cousin, Vinson. But the odds weren't in his favor as the Trojans pitched by committee and tossed just one inning each.

"It was a lot fun. We've been looking forward to this game since we found it was scheduled," Lancaster said. "It was fun to get a chance to play against guys I grew up playing with ... Airlon especially. I was hoping to face him, but it didn't work out that way."

Of the three Wayne County natives that saw work on the mound on Saturday -- Mount Olive's Lancaster and Philip Pennington and LCC's Michael Sigmon -- none pitched against another local product on the opposing team. With two outs in the bottom of the first on Friday, Oglesby tossed one ball to another Eastern Wayne alumnus, Josh Carter, before a bolt of lightning halted play for good.

While there may have not been any local pitcher vs. hitter matchups, one head-to-head meeting will likely be talked about at some family dinner tables for a long time.

Jes Snyder, a Spring Creek graduate and LCC sophomore, stepped into the box with two outs in the seventh against his future brother-in-law, MOC righty Jonathan McClellan. McClellan's first pitch was a humorous, brush-back pitch that went well behind Snyder as both shared a smile and a chuckle.

After McClellan, engaged to Lindsey Snyder, tossed another ball, Snyder sent the senior's third pitch -- an inside fastball -- over the left field fence.

Both were still smiling as the former Gator rounded the bases.

"He told me he was going to serve me one up, and I got a hold of it," Snyder said.

MOC wins,

both teams benefit

Mount Olive eventually won the game in impressive fashion, outhitting the Lancers, 19-7 in a 14-3 victory.

In the Trojans' previous two outings in a doubleheader last weekend at Wingate, they scored eight runs but left 19 runners combined on the bases in a pair of losses.

Sure, Mount Olive did plenty of damage to Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference pitching during the league tourney (52 runs in four games) and secured a berth in the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional, but getting back into "the swing of things" was a welcome sight to the players and coaches.

"It's a long break until the regionals. I think we were riding our horse too high at Wingate and got beat by a team that wasn't nearly as good as us," Lancaster said. "We came back out today, swung the bats better and tried to get the momentum again."

Also, Mount Olive got work from nine different pitchers -- using one per inning -- during the exhibition contest.

LCC, the top hitting Division II JUCO team in the nation, had its fair share of baserunners. But the group of Trojan hurlers pitched out of a handful of jams with consistent control through the game.

Unless the Trojans schedule more exhibition games, it may be 10 more days before MOC's pitchers are in a game setting as the regionals are slated for May 18-21. Obviously, getting in an inning of work against live hitting proved valuable.

"This was a confidence booster considering last weekend," Pennington said. "All of our pitchers got in, all of our hitters got to hit, so it was good all-around. It was a lot like a live bullpen for me. You just try to work down and execute all of your pitchers. It's the best kind of bullpen you can have."

LCC coach Stony Wine wasn't pleased with the overall outcome of the game, but his team got the opportunity to spend time on both Friday and Saturday getting accustomed to the dimensions and playing conditions at Scarborough Field. That factor alone may be more important than the final score as the Lancers will return to the same field this weekend to take on Southeastern Community College in the best-of-three, Region X Division II series.

The winner earns a berth to the NJCAA District tourney in Maryland on May 19-20. LCC swept seven games from Southeastern this year.

"We're going to be right back out here, so I'd like to think that gives us a slight advantage," Wine said. "The bottom line is that it's not like our field. We didn't play very good today, but it was very beneficial to be on the field."