04/08/07 — Mount Olive clinches No. 1 seed

View Archive

Mount Olive clinches No. 1 seed

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on April 8, 2007 2:02 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Judson Smith allowed only five hits in eight innings and Mount Olive hit three home runs as the nationally 15th-ranked Trojans completed a three-game Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference baseball series sweep with a 6-2 victory over Limestone Saturday at Scarborough Field. Scott Houin, Jason Sherrer and Erik Lovett all homered as the Trojans brought their season home run total to 68, second highest in the nation.

After clinching the No. 1 seed in the CVAC Baseball Tournament and at least a share of the regular season conference title Friday, Mount Olive is assured of sole possession of the regular season CVAC championship.

Mount Olive (37-10 overall, 18-3 CVAC) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first as each of the first five Trojan batters reached base. After David Cooper drew a leadoff walk and Stephen Nordan followed with a single, Houin took advantage of a gusty wind for a three-run homer to straightaway centerfield, his ninth home run of the season. Dustin Richardson walked and scored from first on Lovett's double off the center field fence.

Sherrer led off the bottom of the third with a home run, sending the first pitch over the centerfield fence for his sixth homer of the season. Erik Lovett belted his 14th home run of the season with two outs in the fourth, a solo shot to right-center field to extend the Trojans' lead to 6-0. Lovett entered the week tied for fourth in the nation in home runs.

Smith (6-2) allowed a pair of singles in the first, then retired 17 of the next 18 batters he faced, including 13 in a row during one stretch. Smith retired the side in order in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Limestone (20-27, 6-14) got on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning. Tyler Midgett led off the inning with a single up the middle and Taylor Cook lined a single to center one out later. After the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, Midgett scored on Dylan Anthony's infield single. Cook came home on Paul Irby's sacrifice fly.

Smith got out of the inning on a strikeout, then retired the side in order in the eighth. Ted Pelech took over in the ninth, overcoming a one-out walk on a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. Smith struck out three and walked one. Pelech recorded his seventh consecutive scoreless relief appearance, covering 12 innings.

Limestone starter Chris Zimmerman (3-6) went the distance, striking out six and retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.

Mount Olive returns to action Tuesday as the Trojans travel to Salisbury to take on Catawba in a non-conference doubleheader. Game time is 2:30 p.m. Limestone plays host to Carson-Newman Wednesday at 3 p.m. in non-conference action. Both teams conclude regular season conference play next weekend.

On Friday, Mount Olive clinched the regular season Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference baseball title and the No. 1 seed in the CVAC Tournament as the Trojans capped a rally from a five-run deficit with three runs in its final at-bat for a 7-6 victory and a doubleheader sweep over Limestone Friday at Scarborough Field. The Trojans took the opener 5-2 behind Tom Layne's nine-inning complete game four-hitter.

In Friday's opener, Mount Olive fell behind 1-0 in the top of the first after an infield error led to an unearned run. Layne got out of the inning on a double play ball and a bouncer to the mound. Layne went on to retire 18 consecutive batters before issuing a one-out walk in the seventh. Layne threw only eight pitches in the fourth and six pitches in the fifth, and struck out the side in the sixth.

The Trojans tied the game in the bottom of the second on Richardson's leadoff home run over the left field fence, his 13th of the year. Erik Lovett followed with a double to right and scored one out later on Jason Sherrer's double down the left field line to put the Trojans ahead to stay 2-1.

Mount Olive added an unearned run in the third as Anthony Williams led off with a single, advanced to third on a sacrifice and a ground out, and scored when Scott Houin reached on an error. Williams scored again for the Trojans in the fifth, leading off with a single and stealing second. Stephen Nordan singled to center to plate Williams and extend the Trojans' lead to 4-1.

The Trojans added an insurance run in the eighth as Richardson tripled to right with one out and scored on Josh Carter's two-out single through the right side.

Layne took a one-hitter into the top of the ninth before Dylan Anthony and Zachary Watkins both reached on bunt singles to lead off the inning. Layne retired the next two batters, but Adam McSwain singled to bring home Anthony. Layne then ended the contest with his ninth strikeout of the game.

In the second game, a dropped foul ball led to three unearned runs in the top of the third for Limestone (20-26, 6-13). Watkins opened the scoring with an RBI-triple and Phillip Soden capped the inning with an RBI-double. Watkins drove in another run with a single in the fourth and Kyle Brewer scored when Watkins' hit was misplayed in the outfield as the Saints extended their lead to 5-0.

Limestone starter Tyler Anderson held Mount Olive hitless until the fourth inning when Scott Houin and Dustin Richardson connected on back-to-back RBI-triples. Richardson came home on Erik Lovett's double to pull the Trojans within 5-3.

David Cooper brought the Trojans within a run in the fifth, stretching a single into a double to lead off the inning, then advancing to third on a ground out and scoring on Houin's sacrifice fly.

Limestone scored an insurance run on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth and both teams were retired in order in their next at-bat, leaving Mount Olive one last chance in the bottom of the seventh in the scheduled seven-inning contest.

Cooper reached on an infield single and scored all the way from first on Nordan's opposite-field double down the left field line to pull the Trojans within 6-5. Houin reached on a fielder's choice when Nordan was called safe on a close play at third base. Houin stole second and with the count 3-1, Richardson was intentionally walked, bringing up Lovett with the bases loaded and nobody out.

Lovett lofted an opposite-field fly ball to medium depth in left field, but the ball was misplayed, allowing the tying and winning runs to score.

Patrick Ball (2-0) pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for the win. Four of the five runs allowed by Trojan starter Darrell Ellis were unearned as Ellis went 3 2/3 innings. Weston Curles allowed one run in two innings of middle relief.

Limestone reliever Brian Baugher (2-6) entered the game with one out in the fifth and retired the first four batters he faced before Mount Olive rallied in the seventh.

Cooper and Lovett had two hits apiece for the Trojans. Watkins went 2-for-3 with two RBI for the Saints.

The regular season CVAC title is the fifth for Mount Olive and first since 2003. The Trojans also won two regular season Carolinas Conference championships.

-- MOC sports information