Trojans clinch conference crown with split at Erskine
By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on April 11, 2010 1:50 AM
MOC Sports Information
DUE WEST, S.C. -- With one swing of the bat, Mike Knox broke the Mount Olive College single-season home run and runs batted in records as his three-run homer capped a seven-run second inning and propelled the nationally seventh-ranked Trojans to the regular season conference title with a 14-5 victory over No. 20 Erskine in game one of a Conference Carolinas baseball doubleheader Saturday at Due West, S.C.
The Trojans also earn the top seed in next weekend's conference tournament.
The Trojans fell 12-6 in the nightcap as Erskine rallied from a four-run deficit with 10 runs in the final two innings. Jeremy Nowak belted his 15th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth to give Mount Olive a 6-2 lead. Nowak came within a double of hitting for the cycle.
Mount Olive (34-8, 18-6 Conference Carolinas) entered this weekend's regular season series finale atop the conference standings, a half-game ahead of Erskine. The winner of the three-game series would claim the regular season championship. The Trojans won the series opener 5-2 Friday.
Knox came into the series tied for the school record for home runs and runs batted in. His home run upped his season totals to 22 home runs and 86 runs batted in. Knox also drove in a run in game two. Erik Lovett held the previous home run record with 21 in 2007 and Jason Sherrer had the school rbi record with 83.
Mount Olive trailed 2-0 after one inning in the opener before Tyler Smith's two-run double with one out in the top of the second tied the game. Run-scoring singles by Ryan Faison and Jesse Lancaster put the Trojans ahead to stay and Knox's blast broke the game open.
Bobby Leeper and Smith opened the third inning with singles and Leeper came home on an error. Joseph Westbrook singled in a run in the top of the fourth and came home on Smith's rbi-ground out to extend the Trojans' lead to 10-2.
Erskine (35-12, 16-7) used the long ball to account for its runs. Bryan Fogle gave the Flying Fleet an early lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. Fogle homered in each contest in the three-game series. Greg Huff added a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to pull Erskine within 10-5.
Topher Ellis had a two-run single for Mount Olive in the top of the eighth and Airlon Vinson added a two-run single in the top of the ninth to cap the scoring for the Trojans. Mount Olive outhit Erskine 18-7.
Reigning and two-time Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week Curtis Hudson (5-1) went 8 1/3 innings, coming within two outs of his second straight complete game. Hudson struck out eight and scattered seven hits. David Combs took over and sealed the win with a strikeout and a force out.
Mount Olive opens play Thursday at 7 p.m. against the No. 6 seed in the first round of the 2010 Conference Carolinas Baseball Tournament at Wilson, N.C., hosted by Barton College. The top six teams in the regular season standings advance to the double-elimination tournament, which goes through April 18. Seedings and pairings will be announced after all conference teams complete regular season play today.
Erskine clinched the No. 2 seed.
The Trojans won the conference tournament three years in a row before having their streak snapped at last year's tournament.