Top-seeded Trojans clinch Southeast Regional bid
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 19, 2011 2:21 PM
WILSON -- Mount Olive College didn't play its "cleanest" defensive game of the season, but it got the job done at the right time Monday afternoon.
The top-seeded Trojans overcame three errors to defeat third-seeded Limestone, 7-5, and claim their second consecutive Conference Carolinas tournament championship at historic Fleming Stadium. Mount Olive (34-6 overall) secured the automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional, scheduled for mid-May at an undetermined site.
Carter Capps provided 42/3 innings of one-run, six-strikeout relief, and earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors. He was joined on the all-tournament squad by Jacob Rogers, whose two-RBI seventh-inning home run gave the No. 3-ranked Trojans the lead for good.
Joseph Westbrook, Jason Simone and Mike Knox also garnered all-tournament recognition for Mount Olive, which won an unprecedented 10th tournament crown.
"I've never had one (title) that wasn't great," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster. "It doesn't matter how many you've got when you play tournaments because you always want to win them. We've got a good group of kids this year.
"They've played well throughout the entire season and I think the best team won, although those guys gave us all we wanted."
Mount Olive grabbed a 4-0 lead after three innings.
Knox delivered a first-inning RBI single and Simone scored on Rogers' sacrifice fly to center field. Rogers belted a solo home run in the third inning and catcher Nick Gaeta trotted home on Antonio Callaway's base knock.
Limestone (31-16) pulled within 4-1 on Josh Troutman's solo home run off Trojans right-hander Jeremy Hall in the third. The Saints added three unearned runs in the fifth inning and chased Hall, which brought Capps to the hill.
"Jeremy could have gotten through that inning had we not made the error behind him," said Lancaster. "We had a plan if we were ahead, we were going to try to win this one. I bring Capps out there and all of a sudden, it's a tie ballgame.
"Ain't this something?"
After a scoreless sixth, Knox started the MOC seventh with a base hit. Rogers got a hanging pitch from Zack Lucas, one of six Limestone pitchers used in the game, and slapped it over the left center-field fence.
It was Rogers' fourth homer of the season.
"I was just looking to drive the ball," said Rogers. "We just wanted to get someone in scoring position. I just wanted to get a double or drive the ball deep, but it kind of carried out and that was nice."
The Saints climbed within 6-5 in the seventh.The Trojans added a much-needed insurance run on Westbrook's two-out, RBI single in the ninth. Westbrook finished the day 3-for-5.
Capps permitted a meaningless single in the ninth and logged three straight strikeouts for his 20th career win in an MOC uniform.
"I was pitching on short rest so I had to fight through a little bit of fatigue," said Capps. "I definitely didn't have my best stuff, but my secondary stuff -- slider and change-up were there -- so I was happy with that.
"That gave us a chance to win and that's all I wanted to do."