Nationally Second-Ranked Trojans Sweep Three-Game Series At No. 18 Belmont Abbey

Nationally Second-Ranked Trojans Sweep Three-Game Series At No. 18 Belmont Abbey

Alex Regan took a perfect game into the fifth inning and withstood a late rally as nationally second-ranked Mount Olive defeated No. 18 Belmont Abbey 7-4 in game one of a Conference Carolinas baseball doubleheader Sunday at Belmont Abbey. The Trojans used three sacrifice flies to help build a seven-run lead.

The Trojans completed a sweep of the doubleheader and the three-game series with a 14-4 victory in game two. Geno Escalante and Mike Mercurio powered a 16-hit attack with four hits apiece and Mount Olive (16-1 overall, 5-1 Conference Carolinas) gave starting pitcher Chris Orphanos a 10-run lead after three innings. Escalante tied a school record with three doubles in the contest, which was called after seven innings due to darkness.

The three-game sweep is Mount Olive's second in three weeks against a nationally ranked team. The Trojans swept then-No. 19 Le Moyne two weeks ago at Scarborough Field.

In the opener, Regan (4-1) retired the side in order in each of the first four innings, striking out four consecutive batters during the first and second innings. He retired the first two batters in the fifth before his bid for a perfect game was spoiled on a fly ball to left lost in the sun that was ruled a double. Regan finished with five strikeouts and no walks.

Mount Olive used Daniel Oliver's sacrifice fly in the top of the second to take an early lead and Bryan Dunlavey's bases-loaded sacrifice fly to start a five-run fourth inning. Mercurio, who had missed three straight games prior to the Belmont Abbey series, capped the inning with a two-run single. Braden Reitano added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to extend the Trojans' lead to 7-0.

Belmont Abbey (11-4-1, 3-4-1) got on the scoreboard with two runs in the sixth as Anthony Dimino's infield single brought home a run and a Mount Olive error led to an unearned run. Regan retired the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh in the scheduled seven-inning contest before John Pilla kept the inning and the game alive with a single. Levi Wright followed with a two-run homer and the next Crusader reached on an error. But Regan got a flyout to right for his second complete game of the season.

Reitano had two of Mount Olive's nine hits as eight different Trojans had a hit and every Trojan either scored or drove in a run.

In game two, Mercurio kept the first inning alive with a two-out single and Escalante followed with a double. Both runners came home on Jermaine Berry's two-run single and Berry eventually scored on a throwing error to give Mount Olive a 3-0 lead.

Mercurio's two-run single highlighted a three-run second inning and Mount Olive capitalized on two errors and a wild pitch on a third strike in a four-run third inning to give the Trojans a 10-0 lead.

Orphanos (4-0) struck out the side in the second inning and recorded three strikeouts in the fifth inning. Talton Cherry took over with two on and one out in the sixth, and retired both batters to end the inning. Zach Bernard pitched a scoreless seventh to close out the game. Orphanos finished with eight strikeouts.

Escalante added doubles in the second and sixth inning to become the fourth Trojan to hit three doubles in a game, joining Stephen Nordan (2005), Erik Lovett (2008) and Rich Racobaldo (2008).

Mount Olive plays host to Wingate for a two-game non-conference series Tuesday and Wednesday at Scarborough Field. Game time is 4 p.m. both days.