TIGERVILLE, S.C. (May 20) – The No. 13 ranked University of Mount Olive baseball program dropped the final two games of the best-of-three series versus North Greenville on Saturday in the NCAA Southeast Regional at Ashmore Park.
With the losses, the Trojans concluded the season with a 38-17 overall record. Mount Olive made its 19th appearance in the NCAA Tournament after capturing its 15th Conference Carolinas Championship earlier this month in Gastonia. Meanwhile, the Crusaders improve to 47-9 this season and advance to host the Super Regional in Tigerville next weekend versus Belmont Abbey.
In Game 1, the Trojans established an early 1-0 advantage in the top of the first inning. Junior Dylan Jeffries led off the frame with a single up the middle before advancing to third on a wild pitch and a ground out. With two outs, graduate student Landon Choboy laced an RBI single up the middle to score the opening run. North Greenville answered in the bottom half with an RBI single to right field before scoring two runs on a ground-rule double to left field, 3-1. After a scoreless second inning, the Crusaders tallied three runs on four hits to stretch the lead to 6-1. NGU produced back-to-back RBI singles before scoring on a sacrifice fly in foul territory.
North Greenville added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single up the middle before the Trojans countered in the fifth with a pair of runs on three hits. Junior Alden Cottle delivered a leadoff double down the left-field line before senior Joshua Jones placed runners on the corners with a single to center field. The next at-bat, junior Mike Kenney registered an RBI single before junior Vito Patierno collected an RBI on a fielder’s choice, 7-3. The Crusaders countered in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back solo homers to restore its six-run lead, 9-3.
Following a scoreless sixth inning, NGU extended the lead to 11-3 in the seventh on a two-run home run before Mount Olive answered with two runs on three hits in the eighth. Sophomore Cooper George tallied an RBI on an infield single to the shortstop before Jones delivered another RBI single to close the gap to 11-5. The Crusaders secured the win in the top of the ninth closing out the game with consecutive strikeouts.
Choboy and Jones finished 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored, while Jeffries tallied two hits and one run scored in Game 1.
Freshman Carson Gipson suffered the loss (5-1) after surrendering six runs (four earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks over 3.0 innings. Senior Jaydon Gartner and junior Justin Koehler combined to pitch the final 5.0 innings and yielded five earned runs with eight strikeouts and two walks.
In Game 2, Mount Olive once again jumped ahead by a 1-0 margin in the bottom of the first inning after Choboy registered an RBI on a fielder’s choice. The Trojans looked to add to their lead in the second frame after loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk with one out. Following an NGU pitching change, the Crusaders escaped the jam with a fly-out to left field and a line out to center field. North Greenville responded in the third with a two-run single to left field before later scoring on a groundout, 3-1. The Crusaders stretched their advantage in the top of the fourth with a solo homer and an RBI single to right-center to hold a 5-1 lead.
In the top of the fifth, senior Jack Casbarro registered a single up the middle with one out before stealing second base. The following at-bat, Choboy ripped a single through the right side to close the gap to 5-2. Mount Olive had its opportunities in the seventh and eighth inning after stranding a pair of runners in scoring position in both frames. In the top of the ninth, NGU opened up the lead with four runs on two hits to take a 9-2 advantage.
Senior Caleb Irwin was saddled with the loss (1-2) after surrendering three runs on three hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Junior Andrew Ledbetter pitched effectively in relief after tossing 2.2 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and two walks.