Weston Curles tossed seven shutout innings, Erik Lovett tied a school record with three doubles and Alex Vertcnik capped a seven-run eighth inning with a three-run double as nationally top-ranked Mount Olive won a battle of top 10 teams with a 10-0 victory over No. 7 Francis Marion 10-0 in non-conference baseball Wednesday at Florence, S.C. The win extends the Trojans’ winning streak to 18.
The two teams entered the game ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in this week’s NCBWA South Atlantic Region Top 10, as voted on by members of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Mount Olive (20-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as David Cooper led off the game with an opposite-field double down the left field line. Cooper scored when Jesse Lancaster reached on an error and Lancaster came home on Lovett’s first double of the game.
Curles (2-0) used a double play ball to overcome a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, then retired the side in order in each of the next two innings.
Francis Marion (16-5) had its best scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first, using a walk, a single and a sacrifice to put runners on second and third with one out and the go-ahead run at the plate. But Curles struck out the next two batters to escape trouble.
The Trojans extended the lead to 3-0 in the top of the sixth on back-to-back one-out doubles by Lovett and Jason Sherrer before breaking the game open in the eighth.
Vertcnik singled up the middle to lead off the top of the eighth and went to third on Lovett’s record-tying third double of the game. Lovett tied the record set by Stephen Nordan against Shaw in 2005. The doubles record comes only three days after Lovett tied Nordan’s school record for career home runs with 27.
After Sherrer walked to load the bases, Josh Harrison singled through the right side for the first run of the inning. Dylan Holton grounded out to first, driving in a run and advancing the runners to second and third. Anthony Williams drew a walk to load the bases, and Cooper and Lancaster both walked to make the score 7-0. Vertcnik, the Trojans’ rbi-leader with 35, cleared the bases with a double to center. Vertcnik, who had two hits in the inning, has driven in at least one run in 18 of his first 21 games.
Curles struck out four and allowed four hits, all singles. Patrick Ball pitched the final two innings for the Trojans.
The two-game series was shortened to a single game after rain canceled Tuesday’s contest.
Mount Olive is now 8-1 in its last nine games against national top 10 teams, dating back to 2006. The Trojans opened the season taking two-of-three against preseason No. 7 Tusculum.
Mount Olive returns to action this weekend as the Trojans travel to Misenheimer, N.C., to take on Pfeiffer in a three-game Conference Carolinas series. The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday and single game Sunday. Game time is 1 p.m. both days.