West Florida denies Trojans' CWS dreams
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 3, 2011 1:47 PM
CARY -- The "hitting ghosts" haunted Mount Olive College one final time Thursday afternoon.
The Trojans just couldn't connect on the key base knock.
West Florida did.
All-American right fielder Greg Pron delivered the game-winning, two-RBI single in the seventh inning, and the No. 4-ranked Argonauts eliminated the Trojans, 5-3, from the NCAA Division II College World Series.
West Florida (51-9 overall) plays Winona State (42-17) for the national championship Saturday at Coleman Field on the USA National Baseball Training Complex. First pitch is noon.
"I'm very proud of these kids," said Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster. "We've worked since day one to get here. We had five goals and completed four of them. Obviously, we didn't make the fifth one this year.
"It was a great year -- a great bunch of guys."
Mount Olive (47-10) had its chances.
The Trojans put runners on base in six of nine innings, but left nine stranded on the afternoon. Lancaster's team batted a paltry 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-6 in the final three innings combined.
West Florida relievers Zach Jadofsky and Zach North coerced the Trojans into four ground-ball outs, a flyout and inning-ending strikeout during that stretch. Jadofsky (4-0) emerged the winning pitcher, while North earned his first save of the season.
"We didn't come up with timely hits," said Trojans' outfielder Jason Simone. "I know I didn't. I got put in a couple of situations where I should have hit the ball and scored a couple of runs, but I didn't come through."
Designated hitter Mike Knox put the Trojans ahead 1-0 with a two-out, RBI sacrifice fly in the first inning. The Argonauts tapped out the equalizer on Josh Huggins' RBI single in the second inning.
Mount Olive regained the lead in the fourth.
Tyler Smith and Dan Hayduk cranked out back-to-back base hits, and both scored on Daniel Coffey's two-RBI double into the left-field corner. It was Coffey's lone hit of the day.
West Florida mustered just three hits in the first five innings against Trojans' starter Pete Levitt. The 270-pound right-hander used an effective fastball and off-speed pitch to keep the Argonauts from matching their offensive explosion from the first two games.
"I had the same mindset as the last game, which was location, location, location," said Levitt, who threw 115 pitches. "I tried to go as long as I could, but that last inning I just lost my velocity. Just like Coach (Lancaster) said, a couple of pitches and the results would have been different. You just have to take it as it is."
Levitt (10-3) retired nine consecutive hitters before encountering trouble in the seventh. He walked the lead-off batter and one out later, he plunked the No. 8 hitter -- Tyler Hastings.
Korey Domenick pulled West Florida to within 3-2 on a base hit. Two batters and one out later, Pron muscled a two-strike slider from Levitt into left field to put the Argonauts in front, 4-3. Pron concluded the day 2-for-5 with two RBI.
"I came in there and had made a slight adjustment my at-bat before and ended up getting a hit, so I stuck with that," said Pron, who was the Gulf South Conference player-of-the-year. "I was trying to protect every part of the plate and he threw a slider that stayed in, and I hooked it down the line. It was a great feeling."
West Florida added an eighth-inning run off reliever MOC reliever David Combs to cap the scoring. The Argonauts collected eight hits and four earned runs against the Trojans, who had one of the nation's top earned run averages heading into the CWS.
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