MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – David Cooper and Rich Racobaldo collected three hits apiece as nationally top-ranked Mount Olive defeated Shepherd 13-3 in non-conference baseball Wednesday at Scarborough Field. The win was the fifth in a row for the Trojans, which reached the 30-win mark in their 32nd game of the season, the second fewest amount of games in school history.
The Trojans began the 1999 season with a 30-1 mark. Ironically, Mount Olive’s 30th win that year was also against Shepherd.
Mount Olive (30-2) scored single runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. Jason Sherrer led off the second with a single and eventually scored on an error, while Cooper hit a leadoff single in the third and eventually came home on a force out after the Trojans loaded the bases.
Shepherd (6-8) got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth on a two-out solo home run by Dirk Webb. The home run was Webb’s second of the two-game series, but would not be his last.
Mount Olive got some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth as Anthony Williams and Cooper connected on back-to-back two-out singles and Alex Vertcnik walked to load the bases. Erik Lovett followed with his Conference Carolinas-leading 17th double to drive in two runs and extend the Trojans’ lead to 4-1.
The Trojans broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning, loading the bases with nobody out on singles by Josh Harrison and Racobaldo, and a walk to Dylan Holton. Jackson Massey singled in a run and one out later, three runs came home and Cooper went all the way to third on an errant double play attempt on an infield grounder. Cooper scored on Vertcnik’s sacrifice fly to make the score 9-1.
Josh Wenderoth led off the top of the sixth and Webb followed with his second home run of the game and fourth of the season to pull the Rams within 9-3. But that would be as close as they would get.
Harrison scored on Massey’s rbi-ground out in the sixth and Racobaldo capped a three-run seventh inning with a two-run single. Harrison had two hits as Mount Olive collected 14 hits for the second straight day. Harrison, Racobaldo, Lovett and Massey drove in two runs apiece.
Jesse Lancaster (3-0) scattered seven hits in seven innings pitched, striking out two and walking none. Paul Beasley finished with two scoreless innings, receiving defensive help in the eighth after giving up three consecutive singles to start the inning. Vertcnik threw out a runner at the plate from right field for the first out and the Trojans turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Shepherd starter C.J. Bliffin (0-1) was the first of five Rams pitchers and went 3 2/3 innings.
Mount Olive resumes Conference Carolinas action Friday and Saturday as the Trojans travel to Gaffney, S.C., to take on Limestone for a three-game Easter Weekend series. Mount Olive has swept each of its first four conference series. Game time both days is noon.