No. 1 Mount Olive Falls To King 12-7 On Late-Inning Surge

No. 1 Mount Olive Falls To King 12-7 On Late-Inning Surge

A late-inning surge was the difference as nationally top-ranked Mount Olive fell to King 12-7 in the final game of a three-game Conference Carolinas baseball series Sunday at Scarborough Field. Matt Petrone had three hits for Mount Olive and Bretton Gouthro hit his first home run of the season, but it wasn't enough as the Trojans lost a conference series at home for the first time since 2006.

The Trojans and the Tornado each stranded 14 runners to combine for 28 runners left on base, flirting with the NCAA Division II baseball record for most runners left on base in a nine-inning game. The record is 35 runners left on base by Saint Leo and Indianapolis in 1994.

Mount Olive (22-4 overall, 9-3 Conference Carolinas) broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the sixth without benefit of a hit. Braden Reitano was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and after advancing to second on a groundout, Geno Escalante was intentionally walked. Jermaine Berry was hit by a pitch and Gouthro walked with the bases loaded to give the Trojans a 6-5 lead.

King (17-11, 4-5) loaded the bases in the top of the seventh as Stephen Collins led off with single, Steven Todoschuk drew a one-out walk and Jose Sola reached on catcher's interference. After an infield popup, leadoff batter Tyler Gaby lined a single to center off of second baseman Zak Orrison's glove to bring in Collins with the tying run. Todoschuk stumbled rounding third, but recovered to score and put the Tornado on top to stay 7-6.

The Tornado added four runs in the top of the eighth as Josh Huffman led off with a home run and Gaby added a two-run double. Gaby was 4-for-6 with five runs batted in.

King reliever Alex Martin (1-2) took over with one out and the bases loaded and pitched six full innings. Despite hitting four batters and walking six, Martin held the Trojans to three hits, allowing only the run in the sixth and Gouthro's home run in the eighth. Martin threw 111 pitches.

After spotting King a run in the top of the first, Mount Olive answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Petrone led off with a triple to right and scored the Trojans' first run on Reitano's single up the middle. Reitano stole second and came home on a double by Escalante. Gouthro's two-out rbi-single capped the scoring.

King answered with three runs on five hits in the top of the second to take a 4-3 lead. Zach Smith took over on the mound for starter Chris Orphanos with two outs and the bases loaded, and got a line out to left-center to end the inning.  

Mount Olive regained the lead in the bottom of the second as the Trojans loaded the bases on one-out singles by Zak Orrison and Petrone, and a walk to Reitano. Orrison scored when Mercurio reached on an error and after Martin took over on the mound for King, Escalante was hit by a pitch to put the Trojans back on top 5-4.

King tied the game in the top of the third on Todoschuck's solo home run.

Derek Justice (1-1), the third of six Trojan pitchers, took the loss.

Mount Olive travels to Sumter, S.C., Tuesday for a neutral site non-conference game against Armstrong Atlantic State. Game time is 6 p.m.