04/14/13 — Mount Olive takes two from Limestone

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Mount Olive takes two from Limestone

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 14, 2013 1:51 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Emotions from senior day and recognizing an area youth's family in a pre-game ceremony didn't deter No. 2-ranked Mount Olive College from its main focus on Saturday afternoon.

The Trojans handled Limestone with a business-like attitude.

Four pitchers -- Matt Dillon, Talton Cherry, Derek Justice and Chris Orphanos -- held the Saints scoreless in 14 of 16 innings during their Conference Carolinas doubleheader at Scarborough Field.

Dillon and Cherry combined for a seven-hitter in a come-from-behind, 9-2 win in the opener. Justice and Orphanos permitted just four hits in a 5-0 shutout in the nightcap.

"I thought we played well all the way around," Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster said. "Our (starting) pitchers, both of them, were really good today. Offensively, we did a nice job ... we had a good afternoon."

Nine Trojans' seniors were honored before the game for their contributions to the program during their respective careers. They returned to the dugout and watched the ceremony that recognized the family of the late Kevin Wise Jr., who died in his sleep on Feb. 18, 2012.

An endowment scholarship fund has been set up in Wise Jr.'s honor and the family received a framed agreement from Dwayne McKay, the college's director of planned giving. Proceeds from the games -- gate receipts, concessions and donations -- benefited the fund.

Wise Jr.'s grandfather, Charlie Swinson, and his grandson, Trey Pate, each threw out a ceremonial pitch to Mount Olive catcher Geno Escalante.

"Kevin has been a kid we've watched since he was a little guy," Lancaster said. "He's what we call in basketball terms a gym rat, but he was always on the baseball field somewhere and always out here with us.

"It's sad that things worked out the way they did and we don't have answers for that. We love the whole family and feel for what they have gone through. If we can do anything in the community for people like this, we want to be part of it.

"I was real happy we could do that."

Limestone scratched for a first-inning run on two hits and an infield error against Dillon, but didn't score again. The junior right-hander yielded just two additional hits over the next seven innings and struck out seven.

Dillon (8-1) retired the side in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh inning. The 182-pounder threw 19 first-pitch strikes to 31 batters he faced.

"In the first inning, I was missing more in the middle of the plate," said Dillon, who threw 80 strikes in his 116-pitch outing. "I was a little tight and once I got back out there in the second inning, I was able to loosen up ... able to work down on both sides of the plate with all of my pitches."

Dillon's teammates gave him all the run support he needed in the third inning. Bradon Reitano plated Bryan Dunleavy with an RBI single to right field and Reitano scored on Jermaine Berry's one-out sacrifice fly to right field.

Two innings later, the Trojans' offense exploded.

Mike Mercurio's two-RBI double down the right-field line and Geno Escalante's two-run bomb that bounced off the scoreboard in right field spearheaded a five-run outburst. MOC led 7-2.

The Trojans added two more runs in the sixth on back-to-back, bases-loaded RBI walks to Escalante and Daniel Oliver. Mount Olive finished the game with nine hits, including two each from Matt Petrone and Mercurio.

Limestone couldn't solve Justice, either.

The left-hander retired nine consecutive batters during a three-inning stint after giving up a hit in each of the first three innings. Justice (3-1) fanned six Saints and gave way to Orphanos in the seventh.

Orphanos earned his first save of the season, recording three consecutive outs as Limestone stranded runners at second and third base.

"Justice was big for us, starting today and getting it done," Lancaster said. "We had him in the rotation early and he couldn't find the strike zone, and we fiddled around with some other guys. We ran him back out there today because (Alex) Regan has been a little sick.

"We figured we'd give him another day and he did a great job for us, he really did."

Mount Olive (38-4, 16-3 CC) scored in the first inning on senior Jermaine Berry's RBI double to right-center field. Patrone drove hom Dunlavey with a two-out, RBI double in the third.

Oliver capped the scoring with a third-inning, three-run home run -- his fifth round-tripper of the season -- Limestone starter Josh Cesario.

"I had some good luck," Oliver said. "He had thrown 10 straight balls and then he threw a pitch down the middle, which I had to take. Then he threw another pitch in the same spot and I knew I couldn't miss that pitch, especially on senior day.

"I thought I'd go ahead and put it out (of the park)."