05/30/11 — Nation's top hurler gets start today

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Nation's top hurler gets start today

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 30, 2011 1:47 PM

Mount Olive gambled and Pete Levitt cashed in the chips.

Now, the Trojans will play their ace today.

Carter Capps, the NCAA Division II Daktronics national pitcher-of-the-year, gets the nod this evening in second-round action against Winona State (Minn.) at the College World Series.

Most people anticipated Capps getting the start in the Trojans' CWS opener against Millersville (Pa.) University on Saturday, but head coach Carl Lancaster opted to give his top hurler another two days of rest. Capps threw nearly 200 pitches in two Southeast Regional appearances, including a complete-game effort against Wingate.

"It was a decision simply made on Carter's behalf," said Lancaster. "He brought us here, no question about it ... the reason we are here. Who knows where he is going to get drafted, possibly late first round or second (round).

"If he comes out today in this humidity and doesn't make a good showing, he could possibly fall down to a fifth-round draft pick. Who knows? I couldn't live with myself if I let that happen."

Capps (25-0 career) threw a perfect ninth and earned his second save against Millersville. The catcher-turned-pitcher extended his scoreless streak to 161/3 innings, and kept his ERA around the 1.30 mark in 18 appearances this season.

A first-team All-American, Capps will go against Winona State's top hurler, Kodey Simon, who rested after pitching in the Central Regional championship on Tuesday. Simon is 7-2 in 13 appearances, and has posted a 1.78 earned run average (ERA) in 86 innings of work.

"We'll have a battle on our hands," said Lancaster. "There's a lot of good teams here."

The No. 2-ranked Trojans (46-8 overall) mustered eight hits against Millersville, but struggled with runners in scoring position. Mount Olive grounded into two double plays, and left men aboard in three of the final five innings.

Jacob Rogers, a Daktronics third-team All-American pick, and Ryan Faison paced MOC's offense with two hits apiece. Rogers' third-inning, two-RBI triple broke a scoreless tie, and gave him 53 RBI for the season.

The Trojans left six runners on base for the game.

"We really felt like we were going to put up some more runs, but for some reason, we couldn't scratch them across," said Lancaster. "We had some opportunities in the first and then the fourth, just let it get away from us when we could have broke the game open.

"But we came out on top. The guys played very well."