02/20/09 — No. 7-ranked Trojans crank five home runs

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No. 7-ranked Trojans crank five home runs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 20, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Twelve starters, including five Major League Baseball draft selections, might be gone but Mount Olive baseball can still swing the sticks.

Just ask Shaw University.

The Trojans improved to 20-0 overall against Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association teams since 2002, including a 10-0 ledger against the Bears. The latest triumph occurred Thursday afternoon on the Scarborough Field diamond.

Rich Racobaldo crushed two home runs and collected three RBI in a 24-2 thrashing of the Bears. Eight of nine starters provided at least one hit apiece in the Trojans' season-best 21-hit attack.

"I think we're getting better and that's the key for us," said MOC head coach Carl Lancaster. "We need to get better every day and do some things to compliment each other, but we didn't today because we weren't in position to do it."

Mount Olive (9-4 overall) slugged five home runs against an over-matched Shaw pitching staff. Kyle Hinrichs belted a second-inning dinger. Kevin Kearney supplied a two-RBI, seventh-inning shot off the bench. Ritchie Franklin's first-ever collegiate hit -- a two-run blast -- sailed over the left-field fence in the seventh.

The Trojans finished with 12 extra-base knocks.

"We got to get some kids in the game who didn't get to play a lot," said Lancaster.

Five Mount Olive hurlers combined for a three-hitter, and allowed just seven base runners in breezy and cold conditions. Right-hander Sean Lydon logged five strikeouts and yielded one hit in a three-inning stint in his first start of the season. Left-hander Brandon Sutton, a transfer from Appalachian State, retired all six batters he faced and earned the mound victory.

David Combs and Paul Novicki combined for three scoreless innings. The Bears (1-3) averted the shutout with a two-run, ninth-inning effort against Chris Nardini.

"I thought Lydon did well," said Lancaster, now in his 23rd season. "We need him to step up and give us some relief down the road. Sutton pitched better than he did the last time out.

"Pitching has got to be the backbone of this team and I am hoping our arms will figure it out soon. We're not going to put up a lot of runs against better teams."

Mount Olive claimed its seventh win in its last eight outings.

The Trojans continue defense of their Carolina Conference regular-season championship this weekend at Anderson (S.C.) University, which is the lone unbeaten team in league play.

"That's going to be tough on the road," said Lancaster. "They've got a good club with everybody back except two guys. They're very solid. It's a huge series for us ... it really is.

"I just hope we can go there and play well."