No 'four-peat' for Mount Olive College baseball team
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on April 19, 2009 2:00 AM
WILSON -- The famed yellow jerseys brought no luck.
Mount Olive's quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Conference Carolinas baseball tournament title ended with a 4-2 loss to Belmont Abbey on Friday evening.
The Trojans (28-17 overall) remained alive with an 11-6 victory over Limestone earlier in the day.
Top-seeded Belmont Abbey scratched for two first-inning runs on the venerable Fleming Stadium diamond. Carlos Vasquez's solo home run off MOC starter Brett Haynes pushed the Crusaders ahead 3-0 in the second inning.
Haynes eventually took the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits to go with five strikeouts. David Travis and Ryan Williams combined for seven innings of one-run relief.
"For the third straight game we started the wrong guy," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster. "Travis was good and Williams was good. We gave them four runs early and we just had to battle and battle."
Josh Frazier raced on home a passed ball to extend Abbey's lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning. The Trojans countered with Jonathan Smith's RBI sacrifice fly and Jesse Lancaster's RBI groundout.
Mount Olive, ranked No. 7 in the first Southeast Region poll of the season, threatened in the ninth inning. But Lancaster grounded out into a game-ending double play.
Raymond (4-3) allowed two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks for the Crusaders.
"Raymond was not good early but then he got really good," said coach Lancaster. "We let him off the hook early by chasing balls we shouldn't have. It just wasn't our weekend."
The loss marked the final conference game for six Trojan seniors and snapped the program's streak of three consecutive NCAA regional appearances.
"Those seniors are the guys we have left from the (national) championship team," said Lancaster. "Late in the season we had all those guys back on the field. Some of these younger guys that have been with us didn't understand what it meant so we went with some of the guys that did understand."
Dylan Holton scored on Smith's RBI fielder's choice to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the victory over Limestone. Kevin Kearney's fourth-inning, infield single scored Smith to put MOC in front 2-0.
The Saints tied the game on Joe Maloney's two-RBI, fourth-inning single.
Alex Vertcnik's two-run home run to deep right field in the top of the fifth gave the Trojans a 4-2 lead. Lancaster's RBI single scored Rich Racobaldo and extended the margin to 5-2.
David Christy's RBI single in the home half of the fifth inning trimmed Mount Olive's lead to 5-3. Tim Welsh's two-run double to center field tied the game at 5-5. Maloney's RBI single to center scored Welsh and gave the Saints a 6-5 advantage.
Starting right-hander B.J. Dail tossed 4 2/3 innings, and permitted six runs (five earned) on 10 hits with two strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches.
The Trojans threatened in the top of the seventh with the tying run on second base and two outs. Smith flew out to deep center field to end the threat.
Andy Hilliard's pinch-hit RBI single to center in the top of the eighth inning tied the score at 6-6. Holton's two-run double and Vertcnik's sacrifice fly gave Mount Olive a 9-6 lead. The Trojans tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth for an 11-6 cushion.
Lancaster finished 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in game one.
"We had some guys come up big for us," said coach Lancaster. "I don't want to jinx him, but he's been big for us. I'm proud of these boys."
Kyle Jones tossed 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win. The right-hander struck out five, allowed two hits and walked one Limestone batter.
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