No. 2 Trojans Sweep Limestone In Conference Carolinas Baseball Doubleheader

No. 2 Trojans Sweep Limestone In Conference Carolinas Baseball Doubleheader

Back-to-back doubles by Mike Mercurio and Jermaine Berry and a two-run homer by Geno Escalante accounted for a five-run fifth inning as nationally second-ranked Mount Olive defeated Limestone 9-2 in game one of a Conference Carolinas baseball doubleheader Saturday at Scarborough Field. Escalante, Berry and Mercurio combined for seven runs batted in.

The Trojans took the second game 5-0 as Daniel Oliver sparked the offense with a three-run homer, Derek Justice and Chris Orphanos combined on a seven-inning four-hit shutout. The doubleheader sweep extended Mount Olive's winning streak to 16.

Saturday's doubleheader was dedicated as a fund-raiser for the Kevin Wise, Jr. Memorial Endowed Athletic Scholarship Fund at Mount Olive College. Kevin Wise, Jr. was a Southern Wayne High School student and baseball player who passed away last year. A ceremony was held prior to the first game and all proceeds went towards the Scholarship Fund. In addition, raffles were held for autographed University of North Carolina and Mount Olive College baseball jerseys. Wise had accepted a full baseball scholarship at UNC just weeks before his untimely death.

In the opener, Mount Olive (38-4 overall, 16-3 Conference Carolinas) until the bottom of the third when Matt Petrone's line drive up the middle went off the top of the webbing of 6-foot-6 Limestone starting pitcher Cameron Ward for an infield single. Bradon Reitano followed with an rbi-single to tie the game and Berry's bases loaded sacrifice fly put the Trojans ahead to stay 2-1.

Limestone (20-21, 7-15) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when K.J. McAllister led off the game with a single and advanced to third on Trojan starting pitcher Matt Dillon's throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Tyler Wood followed with an rbi-single.

The Saints had a chance to tie the game in the top of the fifth, but were denied by Petrone in left field. With two outs and runners on first and second, Wood lined a single to left. Lead runner Julian Bridges was waved home, but Petrone got the ball to the plate on one hop well ahead of Bridges and catcher Escalante put the tag on for the final out.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Petrone and Reitano both reached base and stole a base to give Mount Olive two runners in scoring position. Mercurio doubled down the right field line to drive in both runners and extend the Trojans' lead to 4-1. Mercurio scored when Berry stretched an infield single into a double after his bouncer up the middle took a tricky hop and went off the knee of Limestone shortstop Michael Hughey into the right field grass.

Escalante capped the inning with an opposite-field drive off the scoreboard in right field to give the Trojans a 7-1 lead. Escalante and Daniel Oliver drew bases loaded walks in the sixth inning.

Dillon (8-1) went eight innings, allowing four hits and striking out seven. Talton Cherry pitched the ninth for the Trojans.

In the second game, Mount Olive led 2-0 after Berry's rbi-double in the first and Mercurio's rbi-double in the second. Berry and Escalante drew consecutive one-out walks in the third and Oliver followed with a towering fly ball over the left field fence for his fifth home run of the season.

Justice (3-1) struck out six and picked off two runners. He took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning before giving up a leadoff double to Cooper Gunter. Justice appeared to have Gunter out at third on a bouncer to the mound, but after a rundown, Gunter was able to avoid the tag at third. Orphanos took over on the mound and retired the next three batters on two fly outs and a strikeout for his first save of the season.

The two teams conclude their three-game series with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.