03/20/08 — MOC baseball routs Shepherd 13-3

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MOC baseball routs Shepherd 13-3

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 20, 2008 1:50 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive was forced to get away from its hard-hitting, home-run heavy style, but the top-ranked Trojans didn't seem to mind as they routed Shepherd (W. Va.) University 13-3 on Wednesday afternoon at Scarborough Field.

The No. 1-ranked Trojans fought both the Rams as well as gusty conditions for their 30th victory of the season in 32 tries.

Jesse Lancaster allowed three runs over six innings to get the win. It was one of the right-hander's strongest performances of the season, according to MOC coach -- and dad -- Carl Lancaster.

"Jesse had a very good outing today. He had good control of his pitches and he mixed things up well," said Lancaster. "With the exception of their fourth batter, he did a great job of settling down early."

Mount Olive jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to some shaky defense by the Rams. Jason Sherrer reached base to lead off the second inning, and scored when Shepherd shortstop Josh Wenderoth threw away a grounder off the bat of Jackson Massey.

The Trojans added an insurance run in the third inning, and broke the game open on Erik Lovett's double in the fourth. Lovett's two-base knock scored Anthony Williams and David Cooper, and marked the end of the night for Rams starter C.J. Bliffin.

Going to the bullpen turned out to be the doom of the visitors.

Mount Olive seized control of the contest in the fifth inning, taking advantage of more bad Shepherd defense. Back-to-back singles by Josh Harrison and Rich Rocobaldo opened the frame, and the jam was compounded by another Ram error.

When the dust settled, five Trojans had crossed the plate and Mount Olive held a comfortable 9-1 lead.

"We hit the ball today, and we avoided the base-running mistakes that have been a problem for us the last week or so," Lancaster said. "I was really pleased with our all-around game."

Mount Olive went to the bullpen in the seventh inning to give Craig Beasley some work in a non-save situation. Beasley pitched the final three innings.

The defensive highlight of the game came in the top of the eighth, when Cooper dove to his right and fielded a ground ball between third and short. Cooper then flicked the ball to Williams at second base, who turned a spectacular double play.

The Trojans will spend the Easter weekend in South Carolina for a three-game series with Conference Carolinas foe Limestone. The Saints are tied for ninth with North Georgia in this week's South Atlantic Region poll.

Mount Olive is 12-0 overall in Conference Carolinas play this season.

"We know that we have to go down there and play well to keep pace in the league," Lancaster said. "There are a couple teams right behind us. Erskine only has two losses, and we can't afford to drop any games."