03/30/08 — No. 1-ranked Trojans likely to fall from top perch

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No. 1-ranked Trojans likely to fall from top perch

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 30, 2008 2:04 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- After spending five weeks atop several national baseball polls, Mount Olive's reign at No. 1 most likely ended Saturday afternoon -- and against an unlikely opponent.

Conference Carolinas member Coker (S.C.) College stunned the Trojans 10-9 in game one at Scarborough Field. Mount Olive (35-4 overall) rebounded with an 11-5 victory in the nightcap and kept a two-game advantage on Erskine in the league standings.

The Cobras entered the weekend series as the league's last-place team.

"We're in a little funk right now," Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster said. "We're fighting the game a little bit. No. 1 that's done and that's fine with me. We've been there a while and I didn't feel like we were pressing.

"We're just not sharp right now."

Erik Lovett ripped two homers in the second game. The first, a grand-slam shot, put the Trojans ahead 4-0 in the first inning. After an error led to an unearned run, Alex Vertcnik and Jason Sherrer each produced an RBI.

Lovett cranked his second round-tripper, a two-run blast, to make it 9-0.

The Cobras (13-25, 4-16 CC) used three hits off Mount Olive starter Ryan Schlecht in the top of the fourth to push across three runs. They added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

But Jesse Lancaster's RBI single and Vertcnik's RBI triple in the sixth stretched the lead to 11-5.

Schlecht (9-0) earned the win, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Craig Beasley closed the game in relief.

Trailing 10-8 in game one, Mount Olive attempted a ninth-inning rally that fell just short. David Cooper pulled the Trojans within a single run on an RBI bloop single.

Vertcnik's two-out walk loaded the bases, but he was hit by Lovett's ground ball and that ended the game in shocking fashion.

"In the last inning of the first game I really thought we were going to win the ballgame," Lancaster said. "We just needed a fly ball to tie it or a base hit to win it and didn't get either."

The Trojans left 13 runners on base.

Jason Sherrer, who finished the day 6-for-8 with with six RBI, tied game one at 2-2 with a two-RBI triple in the opening inning.

Coker moved back in front 4-2 against Mount Olive starter Casey Hodges, who allowed six earned runs on eight hits. Cooper pulled the Trojans within 4-3 on a third-inning, RBI single.

The Cobras regained some breathing room with two runs in the third inning. Lovett and Sherrer each had RBI doubles to close the gap to 6-5, and Sherrer factored into the game with an RBI double in the eighth, which pulled the Trojans within 10-8.

However, Coker did just enough to stay in front and benefited from Lovett's groundball to knock Mount Olive from its No. 1 perch.