No. 1 Trojans knock off Central Missouri
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 30, 2008 1:57 PM
SAUGET, Ill. -- It's title time.
No. 1-ranked Mount Olive College defeated Central Missouri 5-3 and punched its ticket to the championship game of the 2008 NCAA Division II College World Series on Thursday evening.
The Trojans (57-6 overall) oppose either No. 2-ranked Sonoma State (Calif.) or Ouachita (Ark.) Baptist for the title on Saturday. Ouachita turned back Sonoma 2-1 on Thursday, setting up a second elimination game which starts at noon (1 p.m. EDT) today.
Unlike the opening two rounds at GCS Ballpark, Mount Olive benefited from blue skies -- and more importantly -- solid pitching. Junior transfer Kyle Jones gave his team a quality seven-inning outing.
"Kyle did a great job for us today. He really came through," said MOC head coach Carl Lancaster. "We thought we would give him a chance to start and he certainly made the most of it."
After falling behind for the third consecutive game, Mount Olive erased a 1-0 deficit in the top of the second inning.
Josh Harrison and Jesse Lancaster led off the inning with a pair of singles and advanced on Joseph Westbrook's two-out walk. Trojan shortstop David Cooper earned an RBI with a bases-loaded walk.
Rich Racobaldo delivered the big blow when he drove in two runs with a rocket off the left-field fence. The Trojans led 3-1.
"Rock had the big hit in the second inning," said Lancaster. "He has been hot lately and today it was more of the same."
During Central Missouri's fourth-inning at-bat, a pivotal call was made at home plate. Mule first baseman Balin Bergman tagged up at second base on a deep fly ball to right field. Mount Olive outfielder Alex Vertcnik gunned the ball to second where it was temporarily misplayed by Cooper.
As the ball rolled toward third base, Bergman raced around the bag and headed for home. Cooper gathered the ball and threw to catcher Jason Sherrer who swiped his glove off of Bergman's shoulder.
The umpire ruled the CMU player out and head coach Tom Myers argued his case behind the plate to no avail.
"I think that everybody in the ballpark thought he was safe," said Lancaster. "The only guys that thought he was out were the umpire, Sherrer and Jones. But if that's the case I will go with what Jason says because he saw it better than anyone."
Determined to make his point, Myers continued his feud with home plate umpire Mike McCray until being ejected in the sixth inning.
Mount Olive tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh thanks to an error by the Central Missouri pitcher.
The Mules weren't done. Designated hitter Mike Hallam belted a solo home run in the seventh inning, trimming the advantage to 5-2.
The Trojans turned to the bullpen in the eighth inning and called on Todd Jeffreys. After surrendering two singles and getting only one out, Jeffreys was removed in favor of Mike Williams. The Trojan lefty allowed one run to cross, but wiggled off the hook before the Mules could get any closer.
Williams and Patrick Ball combined to pitch a scoreless ninth and send the Trojans to Saturday's title game.
"When Williams came in, it looked like he was trying to aim the ball, and that's when he had some trouble and they scored," said Lancaster. "In the ninth, he looked better and at the first sign that he might be getting into trouble we turned to Patrick and he finished things for us."
The championship game will be televised live nationally on CBS College Sports Network at 1 p.m. CDT.
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