04/28/08 — Mount Olive completes sweep of Armstrong Atlantic State

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Mount Olive completes sweep of Armstrong Atlantic State

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 28, 2008 1:49 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- If Ryan Schlecht was at his worst Sunday afternoon, Armstrong Atlantic State would certainly hate to see him at his best.

Schlecht scattered six hits in an eight-inning stretch as No. 1-ranked Mount Olive dumped the Pirates 6-1 on senior day at Scarborough Field. The Trojans swept the weekend series and matched their single-season school record for victories (49).

One of 12 seniors honored before the game, Schlecht said his arm didn't feel too well when he took the mound. His pitches lacked their normal velocity and he yielded two first-inning singles. Derrek Miller's two-out single scored lead-off batter Josh Wilson. The first-pitch, RBI hit snapped Mount Olive's string of 36 scoreless innings and four consecutive shutouts.

"Coach (Aaron) Akin and coach (Rob) Watt both said there was nothing I could do about the first inning. That's what happens with metal bats," said Schlecht, who leads all Division II pitchers with 12 wins this season.

"Coach Akin has really helped me a lot and (says) not to let each hit bother me. So when one happens, I just don't let it get to me and I try to make the next pitch."

The defense worked behind Schlecht after the first inning.

Senior first baseman Erik Lovett turned an unassisted, inning-ending double play in the third inning. Senior center fielder Josh Harrison robbed Pirate batters of potential extra-base hits with diving grabs in the gap.

Schlecht retired 14 of 16 batters, including nine in a row, during a four-inning stretch. He helped his cause with six strikeouts. Todd Jeffreys threw a perfect ninth as the Trojans earned their 33rd home win of the season.

"Both of our pitchers did well this weekend," said MOC head coach Carl Lancaster. "We didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball, but had some key hits at times. Their pitchers really locate the ball well, change speeds and did an outstanding job on our big guys in the middle."

The Pirates' staff surrendered just two hits to the Trojans' middle three hitters -- Jason Sherrer, Lovett and Harrison.

Mount Olive, however, compensated with its running game. Rich Racobaldo and Anthony Williams combined for four hits, an RBI and two stolen bases in the bottom half of the order.

Lead-off batter David Cooper hammered out two singles and Jesse Lancaster stole two bases.

"We pressured them and they couldn't throw us out," said Lancaster. "That's where we got our runs from by getting ourselves into scoring position."

Lancaster tied the game at 1-1 with a third-inning RBI single. Williams supplied a fourth-inning RBI hit, while Sherrer plated Lancaster with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Sherrer (1-for-4) and Harrison (1-for-4) extended the Trojans' lead to 5-1 in the seventh with RBI singles. Alex Vertcnik accounted for Mount Olive's final run with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.

The Trojans collected 19 hits in the two-game series. Vertcnik had the only extra-base knock, a third-inning, ground-rule double on Sunday.

"We're playing well and that's what you've got to do this time of year," said Lancaster. "They're a quality team, although they're down a little from what you ordinarily see on the mound. We're glad we got two and overall, I'm pleased."