The nationally 16th-ranked University of Mount Olive Trojans could not complete a ninth inning comeback to beat the visiting Catawba College Indians as they dropped the 10-9 loss in non-conference baseball in Mount Olive, N.C. Bradon Reitano went 2-for-2 with two walks and four RBI in the ball game to lead the offensive for the Trojans.
The Indians (11-11 Overall, 7-5 South Atlantic Conference) came out swinging in the first inning. Blake Houston led off with a single up the middle. Paul Kronenfeld drove him in with a RBI-double into right center. Keaton Hawks followed suit with another RBI-double down the right field line to bring in Kronenfeld. Julio Zubillaga reached first base with a one-out throwing error by the shortstop and Hawks advanced over to third. After a strikeout, Zubillaga advanced to second on a passed ball. Craig Brooks doubled home the fourth and final run of the inning with the third RBI-double of the inning as Zubillaga and Hawks scored.
Mount Olive (15-8, 3-0 Conference Carolinas) was able to tack on a run in the bottom half of the first. Jay Gonzales led off with a single past the shortstop. After a fly out, Gonzales stole second to put him in scoring position. Justin Manning came through and drove in Gonzales with a RBI-single into center field.
Catawba plated a single run in the second off a home run by Shaefer Shepard.
The Trojans bounced back in the bottom of the third. Gonzales reached on a fielding error by the shortstop and used his wheels to get all the way to third on the play to lead off. DeAndre Allen doubled down the left field line and Gonzales scored. Reitano drew a walk and Rob Shipman singled through the middle and brought home Allen and Reitano moved to third. Manning worked on the second walk of the inning and Luke Barry got the RBI on the double-play groundout. Mount Olive was still trailed 6-4 as they went into the fourth.
The Indians plated a run in the top of the fourth off a fielding error that allowed Kronenfeld to score.
Mount Olive returned the run and then got one back in the bottom of the fourth. Gonzales got on with a two-out single to left field and then stole second on the next play. Allen drew a walk and Reitano plated two with an RBI-double down the left field line as Allen and Gonzales scored.
In the bottom of the sixth the Trojans were on the way to take the lead as Cody Britt singled to lead off. Zak Orrison placed a perfect bunt down the third baseline and beat out the throw for back-to-back singles. Gonzales used the sacrifice bunt to move Orrison to second and Britt to third. Reitano continued to swing the bat well and drove in two more Trojans with his RBI-single to centerfield and the Trojans took over the lead 8-7.
However, a big inning was brewing for Catawba in the top of the seventh. T.J. Wharton singled to left field to start off the inning. Brooks was walked and Jon Wallace sacrificed him to second and Wharton to third. Shepard was hit by a pitch and the Indians had the bases loaded with one out. Houston brought home Brooks and Wharton on a RBI-double through the 5-6 gap and regained the lead. Shepard scored on a wild pitch and moved Catawba out in front 10-8.
In the bottom half the Trojans tried to put some runs back on the scoreboard. Manning singled to lead off through the right side. Barry continued with a single into left field. Tyler Farmer who pinched hit for Edwards reached on a fielder's choice and Dylan Harvey, who had entered the game as a pinch runner for Barry, moved to second; manning was eliminated on the play at third. Britt came up with the RBI-single through the right side and Harvey came home.
In the ninth down by one Mount Olive looked to rally. Bretton Gouthro pinched hit for Harvey and drew a lead-off walk. Will Bynum came in to run for Gouthro at first and Farmer moved Bynum into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. However, Bynum was stranded at second as the next two Trojan hitters were retired and Mount Olive fell to Catawba 10-9.
For Catawba Ryan McClintock was credited with the win as he came in relief and pitched two innings of four hit baseball and allowed one run. Brooks earned the save in the ninth.
Josh Frederick (1-1) picked up the loss as he threw three and a thirds inning of relief and gave up three runs –two earned- off three hits and a strikeout.
Mount Olive returns to the diamond at Scarborough field as they will open up Conference Carolinas play at home against Phieffer University this weekend. The Trojans are 3-0 in Conference Carolinas play thus far with a three game sweep of Limestone last weekend. First pitch from Scarborough on Friday will be at 6 p.m. and the final doubleheader game will be at 12 p.m. on Saturday.