Extra-inning thriller: NCWC upsets No. 15-ranked Trojans
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 5, 2007 1:48 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- This shouldn't have happened two months into the baseball season.
Mental and physical defensive mistakes, blown scoring opportunities and inconsistent pitching factored into an embarrassing loss for Mount Olive College on Wednesday evening. Five Trojan hurlers combined for seven walks and three hit batsmen in a 10-9, 10-inning loss to N.C. Wesleyan on the Scarborough Field diamond.
The Battling Bishops, who qualified for the Division III College World Series last season, departed with a 21-12 ledger. N.C. Wesleyan halted Mount Olive's eight-game home win streak and left the Trojans 34-10 overall.
A few Mount Olive players quietly went about their grounds-keeping duties and others silently berated themselves in the dugout after the game. MOC head coach Carl Lancaster viewed the N.C. Wesleyan lineup card on his clipboard one last time and tossed it into a corner.
"Maybe this was an eye opener for them," said Lancaster. "We're a good ball club, but god-dang we're just not running balls out hard and we're not playing hard right now at all.
"We just expect everybody to roll over. The sad thing about it is everybody is playing their best game against us."
Mount Olive started out strong with a five-run first inning. The Trojans capitalized on a two-out infield error and Josh Harrison capped the uprising by slugging a two-run home run.
Senior right-hander Phillip Pennington yielded three hits and faced just 12 N.C. Wesleyan batters during the first three innings.
The Trojans shut down from that point.
Mark Wooten's lead-off double in the fourth and Justin Batts' RBI groundout foiled Pennington's shutout bid. It also began a nine-run surge during the next four innings as N.C. Wesleyan sent 27 batters to the plate.
"That inning right there by Mark getting over to third and Justin getting fisted (on the groundout) was important," said NCWC head coach Charlie Long. "It was good to break the ice there a bit."
Once the Battling Bishops started to knock Pennington around the ballpark, Lancaster called on what had been a reliable bullpen. But relievers Todd Jeffreys and Anthony Hernandez didn't fare any better. The duo faced a combined 15 batters and surrendered five runs (two earned) on six hits.
"Our pitching was as bad as it could possibly be other than (Ted) Pelech," said Lancaster. "We walked or hit nine batters, and you don't expect to win when you do that."
Pelech tossed two innings of two-hit, three-strikeout relief.
Mount Olive pulled within 9-8 on Jason Sherrer's two-out, two-strike single in the seventh. The Trojans left two runners aboard in the eighth and manufactured a 9-9 tie -- with the bases loaded -- on Stephen Nordan's two-strike single.
N.C. Wesleyan benefited from a close play at third base when Mark Kicia was thrown out on Anthony Williams' grounder back to reliever Heath Bridgers.
"We get ourselves back in it and look like we want to play some," said Lancaster. "Then we got the bunt play and ends up out at third ... a bad call there, but if he slides, there is no question about it. The little stuff we just don't do."
The Battling Bishops caught another break when Wooten snagged Dustin Richardson's high fly ball in foul territory near the visitors' dugout.
"The wind certainly helped us on that," said Long. "Thank goodness it was up high enough that it came back. That was huge to get that second out right there."
NCWC reliever Jonathan Shearon, who entered the game with a 21.00 ERA, caught Erik Lovett gazing at an inning-ending third strike. Shearon eventually emerged the winning pitcher when Chris Pecora supplied the game-winning RBI in the top half of the 10th.
Trojan center field Scott Houin reached second in the Trojans' half of the 10th, but was left stranded at second base. Shearon struck out pinch-hitter Casey Hodges and induced a game-ending groundout from Graham Wooten.
The Trojans stranded a season-high 14 runners on base with 11 in scoring position. Overall, the teams combined to leave 30 runners aboard in the 3-hour, 50-minute contest.
"We never deserved it all," said Lancaster of his team's wasted scoring chances. "This was a disgrace, it really was. This was the worst outing I've seen by a ball team here in a long time."
N.C. Wesleyan 000 134 100 1 -- 10 16 2
Mount Olive 500 110 101 0 -- 9 12 1
Leading hitters -- N.C. Wesleyan -- Chris Pecora 4-6, 2B, 2 RBI; Matt Smith 2-5, RBI; Mark Wooten 3-5, 3 2Bs, 2 RBI; Jason Webb 3-5, RBI. Mount Olive -- Stephen Nordan 1-6, 2 RBI; Erik Lovett 2-6; Scott Houin 2-4, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI; Josh Harrison 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Jason Sherrer 2-3, RBI.
DP -- N.C. Wesleyan 1. LOB -- N.C. Wesleyan 16, Mount Olive 14. SH -- Williford, Williams. SF -- Houin. SB -- Pecora, Smith, Cooper 2, Richardson, Houin.
IP H R ER BB SO
Lucas 5 8 7 1 3 1
Campbell 2 2 1 1 2 2
Robertson 0 0 0 0 0 0
Moore 1 1 0 0 1 1
Bridgers 1/3 0 1 1 2 0
Shearon (W, 1-1) 1 2/3 1 0 0 0 2
Pennington 4 2/3 6 4 4 2 7
Jeffreys 1/3 3 4 1 2 0
Hernandez 2 3 1 1 0 0
Pelech 2 2 0 0 3 3
Buhrow (L, 0-1) 2 1 1 0 0
WP -- Campbell 2, Pennington 3, Hernandez. HBP -- by Pennington (West), by Pennington (Means), by Bridgers (Harrison), by Buhrow (Goarck), by Shearon (Houin). PB -- Batts.
Note: Jeffreys faced five batters in the sixth.
T -- 3:50. A -- 344.
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