05/26/08 — Mount Olive game suspended

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Mount Olive game suspended

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 26, 2008 1:50 PM

SAUGET, Ill. -- Rain, rain go away.

Mother Nature held a decisive advantage for much of Sunday and in the end, she nearly pitched a shutout.

No. 1-ranked Mount Olive College endured three weather delays and eventually returned to its hotel with its Division II College World Series opener hanging in the balance. Ouachita (Ark.) Baptist led the Trojans 4-2 in the seventh inning when play was suspended.

The game resumed at noon (EDT) today.

The circumstances and final decision upset Mount Olive coach Carl Lancaster. The 22-year veteran showed his displeasure during a meeting with NCAA officials at home plate.

"This is really unfortunate for everyone associated with both teams," said Mount Olive College athletics director Jeff Eisen. "Nobody wants to spend a 10-hour day at the ballpark and not even get to see a full game."

After the opening ceremonies took place, a major storm with dangerous lightning induced a three-hour delay. Once both teams finally took the field, the sun broke through and embraced the fans who braved the inclement weather.

Ouachita Baptist threatened in the first innings, but couldn't scratch out a run.

Mount Olive grabbed a 2-0, second-inning lead.

Rich Racobaldo belted a double and scored on Dylan Holton's single. Moments later, the Tiger defense conceded the second run when Josh Harrison scampered home on David Cooper's groundout.

Ouachita chipped away at the deficit with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. The Tigers loaded the bases in the seventh, forcing Lancaster and his staff to call upon their fourth pitcher -- Kyle Jones -- of the contest.

Jones entered with the bases loaded and no outs, and promptly logged two strikeouts in the scorebook. With Trojan fans chanting "M-O-C!," lightning struck within eight miles of GCS Stadium and warranted a break in the action.

Officials cleared the stadium.

"In this situation they have to error on the side of caution," said Eisen. "All we can do is wait until things clear up, and eventually finish this thing."

Another 30-minute mandated delay, per NCAA rules, occurred and eventually lasted almost two hours. Once the delay ended, the teams returned to the field.

The Trojans called upon Weston Curles to get out of the bases-loaded jam. However, the sixth-year senior walked in the go-ahead run and Ouachita Baptist added a second run on a wild pitch. Curles struck out Chandler Boyce to end the two-hour inning.

Rain began to fall one batter into the Mount Olive inning and again lightning chased the players into the dugout. Both coaches met with NCAA officials behind home plate and decided to continue play today.

Lancaster signaled for his team to head to the bus with the Trojans trailing 4-2, and Jesse Lancaster at the plate facing a 2-1 count with one out.