04/17/11 — Mount Olive rallies past Limestone

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Mount Olive rallies past Limestone

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on April 17, 2011 1:51 AM

WILSON -- It was a game that had everything, strategy, defense, clutch hitting and controversy.

Mount Olive College scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and rallied for an 11-7 win over Limestone College on Saturday afternoon in the semifinal round of the Conference Carolinas baseball tournament at Flemming Stadium.

The win puts the Trojans in Monday's final against a yet to be determined opponent.

Rain pushed Saturday's final two games to today.

Saturday's intrigue began in the top of the fifth inning with the game tied at 2-2.

Josh Troutman delivered an RBI double to give the Saints the lead. Micah Robinson reached on an error and Joe Maloney plated two additional runs on a double down the left field line that appeared to hit in foul territory but was ruled fair by the home plate umpire.

Mount Olive answered in the bottom of the sixth inning with a pair of clutch hits. The Trojans tied the game at 6-6 on an RBI single off the bat of Joseph Westbrook. Tyler Smith followed two batters later with a two-run double.

"This was a game that was filled with big hits at big moments," Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster said. "I feel like in the end we just got one more big hit than they did."

Limestone regained the lead in the top of the seventh when Chad Balderman roped an RBI double to give the Saints a 7-6 advantage.

Mount Olive got the better end of a controversial call by the home plate umpire in the bottom of the eighth frame.

Westbrook led off with a lazy fly ball to right field that appeared to be an out. Lancaster appealed to the first base umpire and Westbrook was ruled safe on a catcher's interference. The next two Trojan hitters each made an out, which would have ended the inning, but because of the interference, Antonio Callaway got to bat and drew a walk.

Ryan Faison followed with the game-tying single and Jason Simone gave the Trojans an 8-7 lead with a base hit of his own. Mike Knox capped the scoring with a towering three-run blast over the leftfield fence.

"That catcher's interference was huge and I thought that they weren't going to call it," Lancaster said. "But it was clear to me that he definitely hit the bat and once the umpires got it straightened out we took advantage."

David Combs worked three innings of relief to get the win on the pitcher's mound. Curtis Hudson started the game and allowed seven runs over six innings.

Heading into Sunday's championship game the Trojans are still in good shape with respect to usable pitchers. The tournament finals will be the team's fourth game in as many days and could go two games if the team that emerges from the consolation bracket wins the opener.

"Right now everyone is really in about the same boat," Lancaster said. "Every coach that is still alive is scrambling to find pitchers. I think that is to our advantage because we have a very good offensive lineup."

First pitch from Flemming Stadium in scheduled for 1 p.m. today.