Josh Harrison, Rich Racobaldo and Jason Sherrer drove in three runs apiece as No. 1 seed and nationally top-ranked Mount Olive reached the 50-win mark for the first time in school history with an 11-3 victory over No. 6 seed Erskine in the first round of the NCAA Division II Baseball South Atlantic Regional Thursday at Scarborough Field on the campus of Mount Olive College. Casey Hodges allowed one run and four hits in six innings for the win.
With the win, Mount Olive plays Friday at 3 p.m. against No. 4 seed North Georgia, which fell to No. 3 seed USC Aiken 1-0 in Thursday’s opening game. Erskine plays in the first elimination game Friday at 11 a.m. against No. 5 seed Belmont Abbey, which fell to No. 2 seed Columbus State 4-1.
Mount Olive (50-5) left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and squandered a leadoff double in the second before getting on the scoreboard in the third. Harrison looped an 0-2 pitch into left field with the bases loaded to drive in two runs and give the Trojans their first lead of the game. An error brought in another run and Anthony Williams’ two-out rbi-infield single extended the Trojans’ lead to 4-1.
Back-to-back one-out doubles by Alex Vertcnik and Sherrer brought in a run and Harrison and Racobaldo added two-out rbi-singles to make it a 7-1 game. The Trojans extended the lead to 11-1 with four more runs in the bottom of the fifth on two-run singles by Sherrer and Racobaldo. Mount Olive scored eight of its 11 runs with two outs.
Hodges (9-1) got out of the first inning on a 3-6-1 double play and retired the side in order in the second before giving up three hits in the third. He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced, the lone baserunner reaching on an error. Hodges struck out four and walked none. Anthony Hernandez pitched the final three innings in relief.
Erskine (44-12) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Tyler Layton and Dereck King connected on one-out singles and Layton came home one out later on Brandon Garrett’s single. Garrett finished with three hits. Greg Huff and Layton belted solo home runs for the Flying Fleet.
Mount Olive broke last year’s school record for most wins in a season. The Trojans are the first Division II team in the nation to reach the 50-win mark.
“I was getting concerned, leaving so many runners on base in the early innings. I felt a lot better after Josh’s hit.”
Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster
“Getting 50 wins was a goal we had at the beginning of the season, but it’s not really something we thought about tonight. We just need to win each game here.”
Mount Olive centerfielder Josh Harrison.
“Mount Olive is the number one team in the nation and they played like it tonight.”
Erskine head coach Kevin Nichols.