05/27/08 — Trojan's pitching staff used against Ouachita

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Trojan's pitching staff used against Ouachita

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 27, 2008 3:44 PM

SAUGET, Ill. -- Pitching does not always have to be pretty in order to be effective.

Mount Olive used seven different hurlers, due to weather and necessity, in its opening-round game of the NCAA Division II College World Series. Patrick Ball, the sixth reliever to see action against Ouachita (Ark.) Baptist, helped the Trojans pull off a 6-5 comeback.

"We were throwing things together as soon as (Casey) Hodges came out of the ballgame," said Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster. "It was raining, and with the delays and things, we were definitely pitching by committee."

After a three-hour rain delay on Sunday, Hodges got out of the gate strong through the first three innings, but lost command in the fourth. Ouachita (Ark.) Baptist pushed across one run and added a second run in the fifth.

Hodges' lack of control on off-speed pitches forced him to the dugout.

Enter Todd Jeffreys. The right-hander pitched a scoreless sixth inning as the Trojans tried to wrestle the momentum away from the Tigers.

One inning later, the entire pitching rotation and the game got shaken up.

Michael Williams made his first relief appearance of the season and never found the groove. After giving up a hit, an error and a walk with no outs, Williams exited and Kyle Jones inherited a tough situation.

Jones retired the next two Tiger batters, but severe storms intervened for the second time. A 1-hour, 40-minute rain delay ended Jones' day since Lancaster has a policy of not allowing pitchers to return to the mound after a significant delay.

"I was a little upset with the decision to stop the game in the middle of an at-bat," said Lancaster. "It would be one thing if it was the first lightning we had seen, but we had been playing in it for quite a while by that point."

"We let some people know this morning what we thought about that decision. If the kid makes an out great, if he hits a home run ... whatever happens, it isn't fair to shut down the momentum like that."

When the game eventually restarted, Weston Curles took the mound for Mount Olive with the bases still full of Tigers. Facing just three batters, Curles walked in the go-ahead run and tossed a wild pitch that allowed a fourth OBU score. The sixth-year senior was on the hook to take the hard-luck loss when the game was suspended until Monday.

Anthony Hernandez took over for Curles and encountered much of the same trouble. Two walks and an error allowed Ouachita to score again and build a 5-2 advantage.

Ball was next.

"I want the ball in the late-inning situations because that is what I am supposed to do," said Ball. "I faltered during the season a little bit, but today I felt good and was fortunate to walk out with a win thanks to the offense coming through."