04/17/09 — Mount Olive eliminates Coker from tourney

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Mount Olive eliminates Coker from tourney

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on April 17, 2009 1:47 PM

WILSON -- Pat Ball ate up the innings and delivered in elimination-round action Thursday afternoon.

The senior right-hander limited Coker (S.C.) College to four runs (three earned) in a seven-inning stint as Mount Olive escaped 6-4 in the 2009 Conference Carolinas baseball tournament.

The Trojans, the three-time defending tournament champions, continue elimination-bracket play today against Limestone (S.C.) College. First pitch is 1 p.m. at Nixon Field.

If Mount Olive wins, it plays again at 7 p.m. at Fleming Stadium.

Ball (3-4) allowed nine hits while striking out two and walking one. He also kept Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster from having to dip too deep into his bullpen.

"That was huge," said Lancaster of Ball's outing. "That was the best game Pat's had all year. We really needed it and he stepped up and gave us seven good innings. They got some hits off of him but it wasn't anything devastating.

"We saved our bullpen, we really did."

Coker center fielder Brinley Griffin dropped Jesse Lancaster's fly ball, which allowed Alex Vertcnik and Jonathan Smith to score, and give MOC a 2-0, first-inning advantage.

The Cobras answered with B.K. Harfst's RBI single in the home half of the first. Griffin's RBI groundout tied the score at 2-2.

Rich Racobaldo, who was later named the league's co-player of the year, and Lancaster each had third-inning, RBI singles to push the Trojans back in front 4-2.

Coker pulled to within 4-3 in the top of the fourth on Karl Ankerson's RBI groundout.

Racobaldo extended Mount Olive's cushion to 5-3 with solo home run to right center field in the top of the fifth inning. Griffin's RBI single to right field scored Harfst and trimmed the Trojans' lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

Vertcnik's RBI double to left field in the top of the seventh scored Tyler Smith and accounted for the game's final margin.

"We knew we had to keep getting them here or there," said Lancaster.

"That's what we were trying to do is peck away and get some here or there. We knew they were going to stay in the ballgame. That's the way Coker always plays."

Craig Beasley tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first save of the season.

UNC transfer B.J. Dail, coming off a career- and school-best 15-strikeout outing against Limestone just one week ago, got the starting nod Friday afternoon.

"Limestone has one really good arm and they didn't throw him (Thursday)," said Lancaster. "We'll hook up against him tomorrow with B.J. Dail and see what happens."