Trojans sweep pair on diamond from Tusculum
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 3, 2008 8:48 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive looked like a club worthy of its preseason hype and expectations as the Trojans kicked off their 2008 season with a doubleheader sweep of Tusculum on Saturday at Scarborough Field.
Entering the year ranked sixth in the nation, Mount Olive (2-0) scored the go-ahead run on a controversial balk call to earn a 3-2 victory in Game 1 and rallied to prevail 6-4 in Game 2.
Tusculum began the season as the nation's seventh-ranked squad.
The Trojans used a pair of fifth inning runs in Game 2 to even the score at 4-4. Erik Lovett's RBI double brought Alex Vertcnik to the plate and Josh Harrison's sac-fly tied the ballgame.
Ryan Schlecht entered in the sixth in relief of starter Weston Curles and tossed four innings of scoreless baseball.
Vertcnik's two-run double to left in the bottom of the eighth plated John Florance and David Cooper which proved to be the game-winning runs.
"We beat a good ballclub today we really did," Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster said. "Vertcnik came up with a big hit for us and Cooper finally got something going for us in the last inning. We're just happy to get two wins against a quality team."
Freshman catch Tyler Smith put Mount Olive on top 1-0 with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the second. Harrison's sac-fly in the bottom of the third pushed the lead to 2-0.
Tusculum (0-2) answered with three runs in the fourth including back-to-back home runs from Matt Ford and Sean Cotten. The Pioneers increased their advantage to 4-2 on Cotten's RBI triple in the fifth.
Casey Hodges pitched six innings of two-run baseball in Game 1 and Mount Olive benefited from a seventh inning balk call. Tusculum reliever Carlos Ortiz was called for a balk while pitching to Lovett with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Anthony Williams on third.
Williams scored on the play and closer Patrick Ball came on in the ninth and left the tying run stranded at second to pick up the save.
"I thought our middle guys did a good job," Lancaster said of his pitchers. "Pat Ball came in and got the first save of the year. Overall I thought our pitching was okay, it wasn't great. We've got to get some of these other guys who throw some off-speed stuff to get us into the latter innings. I just thought we had a pretty good day overall."
Maikol Gonzalez put Tusculum in front 1-0 with an RBI single in the top of the third. The Trojans responded with two runs in the bottom of the fourth on Harrison's run-scoring single and Vertcnik's sac-fly. Vertcnik finished the day 3 for 7 with three RBI's and Rich Racobaldo went 3 for 7 with three runs scored.
The Pioneers tied things at 2-2 on Ford's single to left.
Mount Olive and Tusculum will meet for the series finale today at 1 p.m.
"That's why we like to play good people early just to find out where we're at," Lancaster said. "We won two, I hope we don't come out (Sunday) and think we're a little better than we are."
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