Starter Alex Hernandez took a one-hitter into the seventh inning and Zach Loraine pitched two scoreless innings for the save as No. 4 seed Coker remained unbeaten with a 5-3 victory over top-seeded and nationally top-ranked Mount Olive in a winner's bracket game in the Southeast Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship Saturday at Mount Olive, N.C. Mount Olive College is the host for the regional.
Coker (37-14) advances to the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. in its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Coker loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the first as Mount Olive starter Derek Justice was unable to retire a batter. Chris Orphanos (8-2) inherited a 2-0 count against Loraine, and retired the next two batters on a foul out and a force out to prevent any runs.
Coker broke a scoreless tie with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth as Loraine led off with a double and scored from third one out later on Fico Kondla's bunt single on a safety squeeze. Kondla advanced to third on Ernie Kirkwood's hit-and-run single and scored on a force out. Coker added two unearned runs in the sixth and T.J. Giczkowski singled home a run in the seventh to extend the Cobras' lead to 5-0.
Mount Olive (48-7) was in danger of being shut out for the first time since the 2010 Southeast Regional - a streak of 165 consecutive games - before the Trojans scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Jermaine Berry drew a leadoff walk and went to third on Escalante's single, which chased Hernandez. Berry scored and Escalante went to second on reliever Andrew Goot's wild pitch. Escalante went to third on Daniel Oliver's single to right and scored when Coker turned a 4-6-3 double play to pull the Trojans within 5-2.
Zak Orrison drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth and Loraine took over on the mound for Goot. Matt Petrone reached on an infield single on a high chopper to the third base side. Orrison stole third and scored on Mike Mercurio's single through the right side. But Mount Olive's threat ended on Coker's third double play of the game as catcher Frank Suarez threw out Petrone trying to steal second after Loraine recorded the second of his three strikeouts. Loraine worked around a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth for his 15th save of the season.