05/19/06 — Trojans battle No. 2-ranked GCSU, but fall 13-8

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Trojans battle No. 2-ranked GCSU, but fall 13-8

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on May 19, 2006 2:08 PM

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- Mount Olive outhit top-seeded Georgia College and State 16-12, but it wasn't enough as the sixth-seeded Trojans fell to the Bobcats 13-8 in the first round of the South Atlantic Regional of the 2006 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship on Thursday.

The loss moves Mount Olive into the elimination bracket of the double-elimination regional. The Trojans take on No. 5 seed USC-Aiken today at 11 a.m. USC-Aiken fell 8-3 to No. 2 seed Francis Marion in Thursday's first game.

Mount Olive (39-15) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as David Cooper led off with a single, stole second and eventually scored on Josh Carter's single to left. Carter, an Eastern Wayne grad, went 4-for-5 for the Trojans, ranked No. 29 in this week's Collegiate Baseball Division II Top 30 Poll.

Georgia College and State (50-10) answered with three runs in the bottom of the first as the nationally second-ranked Bobcats' first five batters reached base off Trojan starter and Charles B. Aycock graduate Philip Pennington (6-4). Paul Buhrow entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, and after allowing a walk, got out of the jam on a strikeout and a double play.

GC&SU used the long ball to extend the lead to 9-1 as Rich Janofsky led off the bottom of the second with a home run and Tripp Burt and Justin Mills belted two-run homers in a five-run third inning.

Carter says that despite the deficit, the Trojans never lost confidence in themselves.

"There was never a sense of panic in the dugout, but there was definitely a sense of urgency," said Carter, who was named to the All-South Atlantic Region First Team. "We know we're capable of scoring runs and we hit the ball well today."

"When you're down by that many runs against a team the quality of Georgia College and State, it's easy for a team to fold," said head coach Carl Lancaster. "I'm really proud of our guys the way they kept battling back."

Carter led off the fourth inning with another single to left, the Trojans' first hit since the first inning off of Bobcat starter Michael Antonini (11-1). Carter advanced to third on Dustin Richardson's chopper to right and scored on Graham Wooten's infield single. Patrick Ball singled to center to load the bases and Anthony Williams drove in two runs with a two-out single to center to pull Mount Olive within 9-4.

Buhrow settled in allowed only one unearned run and one hit over the next four innings. The Trojans pulled within 10-6 after Williams sparked two-out rallies in the sixth and eighth innings. Williams, who collected all three of his hits with two outs, scored on Lance Martin's single in the sixth and scored in the eighth when Cooper reached on an error.

"I was just trying to hit the ball hard and create opportunities for base hits," said Williams, who hits in the No. 9 hole. "I just wanted to keep the inning alive."

Georgia College and State extended its lead to 13-6 with three runs in the bottom of the eighth as the Bobcats plated two runs on wild pitches. Buhrow, who threw 135 pitches in relief, left the game with two outs in the inning. Ryan Barham ended the Bobcats' rally on a fly out to center.

"After the third inning, Paul did a great job on the mound until he ran out of gas late in the game," said Lancaster.

The Trojans made one last threat in the top of the ninth as Carter singled with one out and Stephen Nordan belted a two-run homer over the right-center field fence for his team-high seventh home run of the season. Four of Nordan's home runs have come in his last seven games.

Wooten and Ball kept the Trojans alive with back-to-back two-out singles, but GC&SU second baseman Hans Stancil caught Kyle Curtis' line drive to end the game.

Mount Olive is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA II Baseball Championship and its first since 2000. The Trojans reached the South Atlantic Regional five years in a row from 1996-2000.

Thursday's game was the Trojans' first since April 29.

"The layoff was definitely a factor," said Lancaster. "But I was impressed that we got 16 hits off a good pitching staff after not playing for three weeks."

Lancaster says the team is upbeat despite the loss.

"We just need to today behind us and regroup," said Lancaster. "We're definitely a better ballclub than we showed today. We hit the ball well today and I think that will give us momentum going into tomorrow."

Lancaster added, "It is a double-elimination tournament and we've only lost one game, so we're still playing."

Notes: Josh Carter raised his batting average 10 points to .407, while Anthony Williams raised his average 17 points to .309. With David Cooper and Stephen Nordan both hitting .404, the Trojans have three players hitting over .400 and nine starters batting over .300. ... Eight of nine Trojan starters had at least one hit against Georgia College and State. ... In five postseason games (CVAC Tournament and South Atlantic Regional), Stephen Nordan is batting .652 with four home runs and 10 runs batted in. ... In his previous outing against a national top-five team, Paul Buhrow pitched a complete game one-hitter against No. 4 Catawba in April...Mount Olive is 6-5 this season against teams that have been ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 Poll. ... Both Mount Olive and USC-Aiken enter Friday's game on a three-game losing skid. Both teams had a three-game losing streak during the regular season, but neither team has lost four in a row in 2006. ... Mount Olive is 2-4 this season when allowing 10 or more runs.