02/02/13 — MOC baseball sweeps Lenoir-Rhyne

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MOC baseball sweeps Lenoir-Rhyne

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on February 2, 2013 11:13 PM

HICKORY - Braden Reitano's grand slam home run capped a six-run eighth inning as nationally third-ranked Mount Olive rallied for a 7-3 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne in game one of a non-conference baseball doubleheader Saturday.

Chris Orphanos pitched the final five innings in relief for the win in his Trojan debut.

The Trojans took the nightcap 18-1 as Mike Mercurio homered, tripled, doubled and singled to become the fourth player in school history to hit for the cycle.

Trojan senior catcher Geno Escalante, who hit safely in each of his final 46 games of the 2012 season, went 0-for-3 with a walk in game one to see his streak come to an end. Escalante's 46-game hitting streak is tied for the fourth longest in NCAA Division II baseball history.

In the opener, Mount Olive (2-0 overall) trailed 3-1 going into the top of the eighth when No. 9 batter Zak Orrison doubled with one out, advanced to third on a balk and scored on Matt Petrone's rbi-single. Mercurio was hit by a pitch and Escalante walked to load the bases.

Jermaine Berry drew a walk and Petrone came home to tie the game 3-3. Reitano then cleared the bases with a home run over the left field. Reitano's grand slam was the first of his collegiate career and his eighth career home run overall.

Orpahnos took over for Trojan starter Matt Dillon to open the bottom of the fifth inning. Lenoir-Rhyne scored a pair of runs on back-to-back rbi-doubles by Rai Robinson and David Martin to give the Bears their first lead at 2-1.

Lenoir-Rhyne (0-2 overall) added a run in the bottom of the seventh and had a chance for a big inning with one out and two runners on. But Orphanos induced a 3-6 double play to end the inning.

Orphanos retired the side in order in each of the final two innings, striking out two in the eighth and recording a strikeout for the final out in the ninth. He finished with five strikeouts.

Mount Olive got on the scoreboard first when Daniel Oliver belted a solo home run with two outs in the top of the second inning to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.

Dillon, last year's Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Year, struck out seven and limited the Bears to three hits in four innings.

The Trojans took control early in game two, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. Last season, Mount Olive scored at least 18 runs four times in 44 contests.

Mercurio joins current teammates Escalante and Reitano, and 2011 Major League Baseball draft selection Michael Knox among Trojan players to hit for the cycle. Knox became the first player to hit for the cycle in 2011. Escalante and Reitano achieved the feat last year.

Mount Olive and Lenoir-Rhyne conclude their three-game series with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. Mount Olive plays its 2013 home opener next weekend as the Trojans play host to Newberry for a three-game series at Scarborough Field. The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. and a single game next Sunday at 1 p.m.