04/20/10 — MOC - Pfeiffer baseball

View Archive

MOC - Pfeiffer baseball

By Staff Reports
Published in Sports on April 20, 2010 1:46 PM

Messenger Sports Writer

WILSON -- With his team down to potentially its final strike, Bobby Leeper etched his name into the Mount Olive College history books.

Leeper ripped a single up the middle, and drove in the tying and winning runs in the Trojans' 5-4 victory over Pfeiffer University to force a winner-take-all contest in the Conference Carolinas baseball tournament Sunday afternoon.

Mount Olive rallied for a 7-2 win in game two, and seized the automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. The Trojans claimed their fourth tournament championship in the past five seasons and ninth overall since moving to Division II in the mid-1990s.

"These guys got it done today with a good team effort," said Trojans' head coach Carl Lancaster. "It seemed like every guy that went out there today contributed in one way or another."

Clinging to a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning of game one, Pfeiffer sent all-tournament selection Luke Wilhelm to the mound to potentially close the game and send the Falcons to the regional.

Joseph Westbrook led off the inning with a base hit and was followed by a sacrifice bunt from Topher Ellis. Tyler Smith drew a walk, and he along with Westbrook, moved into scoring position on a groundout by Ryan Faison.

Leeper took the first two pitches of the at-bat for strikes. He lined the third pitch over second base and sprinted to the bag at first to watch as Westbrook and Smith both scored to seal the victory.

"I think that hit was half fear and half focus," said Leeper. "I had been 0-for-4 on the day up until that at-bat, so it was a nice way to break up a rough game."

Curtis Hudson tossed seven innings and got a no decision. Jeremy Nowak earned the win in relief.

In game two, the top-seeded Trojans (38-9 overall) did not wait around for the final moments to take control.

The Falcons grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, but the Trojans answered by tying the game in the top of the third. Faison drew a walk and Leeper followed with a single. Nowak delivered the game-tying RBI on a groundout to second base.

Mount Olive broke the game open one inning later on the most controversial call of the weekend.

Westbrook belted a one-out double and Ellis popped a ball down the right field line that fell a few feet foul. However, the umpire ruled the ball fair because it glanced off the arm of Pfeiffer's right fielder while he was diving from fair territory across the line.

Westbrook scored on the play and the Pfeiffer coaching staff had a heated argument with the umpire behind first base. Ellis scored two pitches later on a sacrifice fly from Smith.

Leading 3-1, Mount Olive added an insurance run in the sixth on Mike Knox's home run. Ellis added a home run in the eighth and Nowak singled home Leeper in the ninth inning.

The advantage was plenty for starter Sean Lydon who earned the win. Lydon, the loser from Thursday's defeat against Anderson, threw 180 pitches over the course of four days. The hard-throwing right hander lasted eight innings in the final game.

"We had stuck around the last two nights to watch Pfeiffer and we thought that we would be able to pitch well to them," said Lancaster. "It worked out that both of our starters were very good."

If Mount Olive had not won the conference tournament there would have been a chance that the team could have drawn an at-large bid to the regional based on overall record. Pfeiffer (27-27) will not have the same luxury.

"You hate it to end like this for Pfeiffer because today was their only chance to advance," said Lancaster. "They battled to the final out and I give them a lot of credit for that."

Four Trojans -- Westbrook, Knox, Faison and Jackson Massey -- were each named to the All-tournament team. Jesse Lancaster was named the tournament most valuable player.