Simone, Hayduk lead charge
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 27, 2011 1:47 PM
Jason Simone expected to see different pitches. Dan Hayduk's hard work in practice paid off.
The Mount Olive College duo provided much-needed offensive power in a lineup that took a major hit when preseason All-American and Tino Martinez Award semifinalist Mike Knox suffered a broken hand in practice.
Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster and his staff did some damage control, and revamped their lineup just 48 hours before the 2011 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.
Lancaster wasn't disappointed.
Simone batted a crisp .450 with nine hits and two RBI in a pitching-deep regional. Hayduk swatted a 10th-inning grand slam against Columbus State and clubbed a bases-clearing double against UNC Pembroke to push the Trojans into Sunday's championship game.
Hayduk plated a regional-best nine RBI.
"Dan was my MVP coming into today until Carter (Capps) did his job," said Lancaster after MOC clinched its second College World Series berth in program history with a winner-take-all victory over Francis Marion.
"That's the thing that makes me proudest of this team. We did lose a very good player in our lineup. We changed our gameplan a bit. I knew some people had to step up, and Dan did.
"He bailed us out. Simone did his job."
Simone cooled off a little bit in both games against FMU, but stayed aggressive at the plate.
"Without him (Knox), it's a tough loss, but I think we did a pretty good job of putting the ball in play," said Simone. "I felt like they were going to pitch me a little different, so I went up there with the mentality of pushing the ball up the middle of the infield the whole time."
Hayduk mustered just four hits in five games, but had the respect of opposing pitching staffs. He got few pitches to hit from FMU reliever Don Sandifer and soft-throwing lefty Matt Broderick on the afternoon.
But without Hayduk's two multiple-run hits one day earlier, the No. 2-ranked Trojans may have seen their season prematurely end.
"We work hard every day in the cage and honestly, it clicked a little bit this weekend," said Hayduk. "I finally drove some balls, including one out of the park."
Hayduk was the lone MOC batter to go yard at pitcher-friendly Scarborough Field. A total of eight home runs were hit during the 10 games played in the regional.
Just three Trojan batters -- Simone, Jacob Rogers and Tyler Smith -- ranked among the top 13 hitters in the six-team regional. Rogers had nine hits and four RBI, while Smith cranked out seven hits and plated three runs.
MOC batted .286 as a team in the regional.
"That's (players stepping up) fulfilling as a coach to see you lose your best offensive guy, pretty much, in terms of hitting the ball out of the yard and driving in runs," said Lancaster. "The guys reached down with a desire to win the tournament and it worked out for us."
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