Alex Regan struck out six batters and picked off two runners on his way to a seven-inning complete game as nationally top-ranked Mount Olive defeated Barton 8-1 in game one of a Conference Carolinas baseball doubleheader Saturday at Scarborough Field. Mike Mercurio, Geno Escalante and Daniel Oliver contributed two-out doubles in a six-run third inning for Mount Olive.
The Trojans completed the doubleheader sweep and three-game series sweep with an 11-4 victory in game two. A three-run second inning and a four-run fourth inning provided more than enough for pitcher Chris Orphanos to remain unbeaten on the season and pick up his second straight win as a starter.
In the opener, Braden Reitano's fifth home run of the season gave Mount Olive (21-2 overall, 8-1 Conference Carolinas) a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and the Trojans' broke the game open in the third. Will Bynum singled in a run and eventually scored on Reitano's one-out sacrifice fly. Mercurio and Escalante followed with back-to-back doubles to extend the lead to 4-0. After Jermaine Berry drew a walk, Oliver drove in the fourth run of the inning with a double. Zak Orrison lined a two-run single left to cap the inning and give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
Barton (5-12, 1-8) avoided the shutout when Phillip Williams drilled a two-out solo home run over the right field fence.
Regan (4-1) retired the first seven batters he faced before Phillip Cotten lined a single up the middle with one out in the third. But Regan picked Cotten off first and got a flyout to end the inning. He allowed a two-out single in the fifth, but ended the inning with another pickoff.
Regan recorded four strikeouts in the final two innings, including strikeouts for the final two outs of the game. He finished with a five-hitter.
In game two, Barton got on the scoreboard in the top of the first for the second time in three games, although Mount Olive left fielder Matt Petrone's defensive play prevented a big inning. After Dillon Rudio led off the game with a single, Mitchell Wheeler followed with a blast to left that was heading out of the park. Petrone raced to the fence and reached over to catch the ball and rob Wheeler of a two-run homer. Rudio scored one batter later on Williams' double to left to give Barton a 1-0 lead. The run was the Bulldogs' first of the series that did not come from a home run.
Mount Olive took the lead for good in the bottom of the second as Berry singled, Tyler Farmer drew a two-out walk, and both runners came home on Bryan Dunlavey's double to right. Dunlavey scored on Orrison's single to give the Trojans a 3-1 lead.
Mercurio doubled in a run in the third and followed with a two-run single in the fourth. Petrone had an rbi-single and Escalante's sacrifice fly capped the inning as Mount Olive extended its lead to 8-1. Single runs in the fifth and sixth innings pushed the Trojans' run total to double digits.
Orphanos (5-0) went seven innings, striking out seven and walking none. Saturday's contest was Orphanos' second of the season after making his first five appearances out of the bullpen.
Talton Cherry, the second of three Trojan pitchers in the game, retired the side in order in the eighth in his one inning of work. Barton added three unearned runs in the top of the ninth for the final score.
Mount Olive is idle until next weekend when the Trojans play host to King in a three-game Conference Carolinas series at Scarborough Field. The series was originally scheduled to be played at King in Bristol, Tenn., but was moved to Mount Olive due to next weekend's running of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and almost certain unavailability of hotel accommodations. The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon and a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.