05/29/08 — Trojans oppose CMU in semifinals

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Trojans oppose CMU in semifinals

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 29, 2008 3:57 PM

SAUGET, Ill. -- Back to business.

After enjoying a day off in St. Louis at a major league baseball game, the Mount Olive Trojans will put their collective nose to the grindstone today at 2:30 CDT when they take on Central Missouri in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II College World Series.

The two teams have taken similar paths to the final four.

Central Missouri (47-16 overall) won its opening-round game against Franklin Pierce by erasing an early 9-1 deficit. The Mules then proceeded to play the longest uninterrupted game of the tournament, a 19-inning, 6-5 loss, to Sonoma State. A game that took nearly seven hours from start to finish.

The Mules defeated Shippensburg (Pa.) 5-1 in elimination-round play Wednesday.

No. 1-ranked Mount Olive (56-6) has come from behind to win both of its early-round games and the Trojans have also experienced one lengthy contest. Thanks to three weather-related delays, Mount Olive's CWS opener against Ouatchita (Ark.) Baptist spanned nearly 24 hours.

Both teams have been forced to use a high volume of pitchers up to this point in the tournament.

Mount Olive has gone through nine arms in its two victories while Central Missouri has sent 11 different hurlers to the mound.

"I think that our pitching will get turned around," said Mount Olive reliever Anthony Hernandez. "I know that personally I am ready to get back out their, and I know the other guys are too."

The usually-stingy Trojan staff has allowed 12 runs in 18 innings thus far in the CWS.

"It has a lot to do with the ballpark in my opinion," said Hernandez. "With the fences being so short, I think guys are trying to be careful because you can't afford to make a single mistake.

"But when you get to this point, all of the teams can hit and it's that much tougher to get outs."

As far as the offensive side of the game, Central Missouri is led by shortstop Brian McBride and first baseman Balin Bergman. McBride is 6-for-14 in the World Series with six runs scored, while Bergman has seven hits in 16 at-bats and has scored five times.

Continuing his success from the South Atlantic Regional, Rich Racobaldo has set the tone for the Mount Olive attack. The red-hot third baseman is 3-for-8 in the batter's box with three doubles and five runs scored.

Conference Carolinas player of the year Jason Sherrer has been equally as impressive offensively. The Trojan catcher has four hits in seven official at-bats with four RBI and three runs scored.

After a slow start against Ouachita Baptist, Mount Olive has broken out for 22 runs over its last 10 innings.

One thing the Trojans should not have to worry about in today's contest is precipitation. After having both of their first two games delayed by storms, the forecast for this afternoon calls for sunny and breezy conditions.