MOC drops pair to Francis Marion
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 12, 2009 1:50 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Murphy's Law is the best way to describe Mount Olive's back-to-back, non-conference losses to Francis Marion (S.C.) University on Wednesday afternoon.
Everything that could go wrong, did for the No. 22-ranked Trojans.
The Patriots claimed 11-8 and 5-2 victories on the Scarborough Field diamond.
"Right now we're a little snake-bit," said MOC head coach Carl Lancaster. "Eventually we have to catch a break, but right now it seems like we just can't put things together."
Mount Olive rallied from a 2-0, first-inning deficit in game one. Rich Racobaldo's two-RBI single and Airlon Vinson's RBI hit put the Trojans ahead 3-2.
But from there the Trojans struggled defensively.
With one out, Preston Shuey reached on a Trojan error and advanced to second on Tyler Boyd's second-inning single. After a flyout, Mount Olive's second miscue led to the game-tying score and the floodgates opened.
Barrett Kleinknecht delivered a two-run single and was followed by consecutive hit batsmen. Keon Graves broke the contest open with a grand slam that capped the Patriots' seven-run outburst.
"We kicked a couple balls on the infield and then one pitch gets up and it's a 9-3 game," said Lancaster. "Francis Marion is a good team, and when they had opportunities to score they made the most of them."
Joseph Westbrook and Vinson each delivered a two-run double as the Trojans tried to climb back into contention, but Patriot reliever Brandon Forshee faced the minimum over the final three innings.
Game two featured better defense, but lacked run production.
Mount Olive stranded 11 base runners in the loss and left the bases loaded in both the second and seventh innings.
With the Patriots holding a 4-0 lead in the fourth frame, Jesse Lancaster singled. Tyler Smith reached on an error, Jonathon Smith was hit by a pitch and Kyle Hinrichs got the Trojans on the board with a sacrifice fly.
Mount Olive added a second run in the seventh inning when Racobaldo singled home Holton. Vinson walked to load the bases, but Patriots reliever Erik Sommerville retired the final two batters of the game on harmless pop outs.
"It's frustrating when nothing seems to bounce your way," said coach Lancaster. "I am really pretty proud of my guys for not getting down and continuing to work to get better every day."
Mount Olive (14-12 overall) will be back in action Saturday when they entertain in-state rival and Conference Carolinas leader Pfeiffer.
"That is going to be another tough series. We really haven't had an easy one yet," said Lancaster. "We will have to have a good approach at the plate because they have one of the best pitching staffs in the conference."
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