05/30/08 — Jones throws seven efficient innings

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Jones throws seven efficient innings

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 30, 2008 1:56 PM

SAUGET, Ill. -- Kyle Jones is no longer a project.

After a three-year hiatus from the diamond, Jones made his way into the Mount Olive bullpen this season without a defined role and carrying few performance expectations.

"Jones has really been a work in progress from day one," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster. "He has gotten better and better as the season has gone on, and recently he has pitched extremely well."

The crafty right-hander from Greenville appeared in 14 regular-season games for Mount Olive, all as a reliever. During his time in the bullpen, Jones recorded one save and two victories against zero defeats.

The junior transfer from East Carolina got his chance to make his mark on the MOC starting rotation during the South Atlantic Regional. After finding out on short notice that he would be on the mound, Jones proceeded to pitch a complete game against USC-Aiken.

"Kyle got a start last week in a must-win game and he was able to win it for us," said Lancaster. "After that game we decided to give him another start in the World Series."

Jones had more time to prepare for Thursday's matchup with Central Missouri.

"I found out two days ago that I would be getting the start today," said Jones. "Coach (Aaron) Akin came to me and let me know at practice, so I just got ready and went through my normal routine."

Jones seized the opportunity to showcase his abilities on the biggest stage, tossing seven solid innings against the Mules en route to the mound win. The Trojan hurler scattered five hits while striking out three and walking just one batter.

During the first two games of the World Series, the Trojans used nine pitchers, making Jones' longevity even more vital. The victory also earned Mount Olive a day off today.

"I just tried to stay relaxed out there and pitch my game," said Jones. "I didn't do anything special or anything new."

Jones improved to 4-0 this season and lowered his earned run average to a minuscule 1.30. He is likely to be a staple of the team's bullpen next season when Casey Hodges, Mike Williams and Ryan Schlecht depart.