Starting pitcher Jesse Lancaster escaped a first-inning jam and went on to retire 13 consecutive batters and Jason Sherrer got the offense started with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to lead No. 3/4 Mount Olive to a 10-2 victory over North Carolina Wesleyan in non-conference baseball Tuesday at Scarborough Field. The Trojans are ranked No. 3 in the Ping Baseball Division II Top 30 and No. 4 in the Collegiate Baseball Division II Top 30.
The contest was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was moved up a day in anticipation of severe weather forecast for the area. The game was the season opener for North Carolina Wesleyan.
Mount Olive (3-1) escaped trouble in the top of the first after Travis Beausoleil and Matt Smith led off with consecutive singles and Chris Becora reached on a bunt single to load the bases. But Lancaster struck out the next batter and got out of the inning on a fly out to shallow center and a force out.
Lancaster (1-0) retired the side in order in each of the next three innings and allowed only one more baserunner, a single with one out in the fifth. Lancaster, who was making his first appearance on the mound in nearly two years after missing the entire 2007 season with an injury, allowed four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in six scoreless innings.
After the first two Trojans were retired in the bottom of the first, Rich Racobaldo singled through the right side and Erik Lovett walked to put runners on first and second. Sherrer followed by blasting a pitch high over the left field fence for his second home run of the season to give Mount Olive a 3-0 lead.
David Cooper’s rbi-single brought home a run in the second and a pair of errors led to two unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth as Mount Olive built the lead to 6-0. Alex Vertcnik, who drove in six runs in the Trojans’ three-game series against No. 7 Tusculum, singled in one of the runs in the fourth.
Mount Olive broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth as Anthony Williams beat out an infield single to lead off the inning and eventually scored on Cooper’s double. Cooper finished with three runs batted in.
After Cooper scored on consecutive ground outs, the Trojans loaded the bases on a single by Lovett and consecutive walks to Sherrer and Josh Harrison. Dylan Holton lofted a single to shallow left field to bring home Lovett and Sherrer and extend Mount Olive’s lead to 10-0. North Carolina Wesleyan left fielder Daniel Moore nearly caught up to the ball after a long run from deep left field, but the ball glanced off his glove.
North Carolina Wesleyan (0-1) got on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth on two-out rbi-singles by Andrew Webb and Jason Gay, but Trojan pitcher Kyle Jones got a strikeout to end the game.
Paul Novicki and Thomas Newsome each pitched a scoreless inning for Mount Olive. Novicki recorded two strikeouts, while Newsome and Jones struck out one batter apiece.
North Carolina Wesleyan starter Ben Moore (0-1) took the loss. Moore struck out one and walked one in four innings pitched.
Mount Olive returns to action this weekend as the Trojans play host to Lenoir-Rhyne in a three-game non-conference series at Scarborough Field. The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon and wrap up the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
North Carolina Wesleyan also returns to action this weekend as the Battling Bishops play host to Eastern Mennonite for a three-game non-conference series. The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday at 11 a.m. and a single game Sunday at 2 p.m.