Matt Dillon recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and tossed an eight-inning complete game as nationally second-ranked Mount Olive defeated No. 18 Belmont Abbey 6-2 in the opening game of a Conference Carolinas baseball series Saturday at Belmont, N.C. The game was called during the top of the ninth inning due to unplayable weather conditions.
Mount Olive (15-1 overall, 3-1 Conference Carolinas) capitalized on three Belmont Abbey errors to score single runs in the first and second innings, then added a run in the fourth on Daniel Oliver's leadoff single and Matt Petrone's rbi-single. The Trojans added three more runs in the fifth, the first run coming after consecutive one-out singles by Mike Mercurio, Geno Escalante and Jermaine Berry. Another Belmont Abbey error led to two more unearned runs to extend the Trojans' lead to 6-0.
Dillon (3-0) retired the first five batters he faced, striking out four in a row before allowing a two-out double to Ryan Allen in the bottom of the second. Dillon got into trouble in the third after the Crusaders loaded the bases on a two-out double by Ian Vazquez, a hit batsman and an error. But Dillon got out of the inning with his fifth strikeout of the game.
Dillon got an inning-ending double play in the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth before Belmont Abbey (11-2-1, 3-2) got on the scoreboard in the sixth. Kennan Stanley tripled with two outs and scored on Allen's squeeze bunt. Allen scored on Michael Falsetti's rbi-double.
That was all Belmont Abbey would get as Dillon allowed only one hit in the final two innings, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Snow started falling after the eighth and Mount Olive added two runs in the top of the ninth. But the game was called with two outs when conditions became unplayable, and by rule, the score reverted back to the last completed inning.
Dillon's performance marked his second consecutive start with a career-high strikeout total. He struck out nine batters in 6 2/3 innings last Saturday against North Greenville.
The two teams conclude the series Sunday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Game one is scheduled for seven innings and game two slated for nine innings.