Mount Olive Stays Unbeaten At Regional Tournament

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Graham Wooten's bases-loaded rbi-single with two outs in the top of the 10th inning broke a 2-2 tie and pitcher Tom Layne went the distance as top-seeded Mount Olive came from behind for a 4-2 victory over No. 4 seed Armstrong Atlantic State in the South Atlantic Regional of the 2007 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship Friday at Grainger Stadium in Kinston. The Trojans rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the top of the ninth as Jason Sherrer capped the two-run inning with a two-out rbi-single.

With the win, Mount Olive (48-11) plays Saturday at 11 a.m. against Georgia College and State or USC Aiken in what will be a match-up of the two remaining unbeaten teams in the tournament. Armstrong Atlantic State (39-23) is eliminated from the tournament.

Armstrong Atlantic State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second as Sean Hotzak led off the inning with a double and eventually scored on Josh Dallas' two-out single. The Pirates added an unearned run in the fourth when Marc Noble hit a leadoff single, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out.

Armstrong Atlantic State starter Austin Ducey, who entered the game with a 9-0 record, held Mount Olive to one hit through six innings and three hits through eight innings. Ducey struck out seven and walked only one.

Dustin Richardson opened the top of the ninth with a single to left and Josh Carter singled one out later for his second hit of the game. Reliever Truman Marek took over for Ducey, who threw 129 pitches in 8 1/3 innings.

Richardson and pinch-runner Wooten advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, and the runners advanced on Scott Houin's rbi-ground out as the Trojans got on the scoreboard. Sherrer then lined the first pitch into center field to plate Wooten and tie the game 2-2.

Layne (9-1) allowed seven hits through the first five innings, but limited Armstrong Atlantic State to a pair of singles the rest of the way. The Pirates got a runner in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Layne got a strikeout to force extra innings.

Mount Olive put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the 10th on consecutive singles by David Cooper and Stephen Nordan. Richardson was intentionally walked to load the bases as the infield played for the force at home. The move appeared to pay off after Marek (2-4) retired the next batter on a fly out to left, to shallow to bring in a run. But Wooten, batting in Carter's spot, singled through the left side to give the Trojans their first lead of the game. Houin singled home an insurance run.

Layne returned to the mound to start the 10th and retired the side in order, ending the game with his fifth strikeout of the contest. Layne threw 128 pitches in his fourth complete game of the season and his first beyond nine innings.

Mount Olive out-hit Armstrong Atlantic State 10-9 as the Trojans collected seven hits in the final two innings.

Mount Olive also matched a school record for most wins in a season. The Trojans finished with a 48-9 record in 1999.

The six-team double-elimination tournament, hosted by Mount Olive College, runs through Sunday. The regional champion advances to the national finals May 25-June 1 at Montgomery, Ala.