Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short - No. 4 Trojans Fall To Top-Ranked Tampa 12-9

Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short - No. 4 Trojans Fall To Top-Ranked Tampa 12-9

Rob Shipman drove in five runs and belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, but nationally fourth-ranked University of Mount Olive's rally came up short as the Trojans fell to No. 1 and defending NCAA II national champion Tampa 12-9 in the opening game of the Prestige Appliance Classic baseball tournament Friday at Aiken, S.C. The loss was the Trojans' first of the season.

Mount Olive (3-1) trailed 12-6 going into the bottom of the ninth when Zak Orrison led off with a single. Chase Edwards reached on an infield single one out later and Shipman followed with his first home run as a Trojan to cut Tampa's lead in half. Spartan reliever Brett Jones took over and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to earn the save and halt the Trojans' rally.

The Trojans battled back from a 7-1 deficit after Tampa (4-0) erupted for six runs in the top of the second. A leadoff bunt single by Jay Gonzalez and an infield single by Bradon Reitano helped Mount Olive load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the third. Edwards followed with a two-run single and the Trojans added single runs on Shipman's rbi-groundout and Colby Conway's sacrifice fly to pull within 7-5.

That would be as close as Mount Olive would get as Tampa scored a run in the top of the fourth and two runs in the fifth to extend its lead to 10-5. The Spartans added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings before DeAndre Allen doubled in a run for Mount Olive in the bottom of the eighth.

Trojan starter Alex Regan (1-1) went 4 2/3 innings and took the loss. Cody Whitley pitched the final 4 1/3 innings in relief.

Connor Obrochta paced Tampa's 16-hit attack with four hits, while Tyler Ding and Nick Tindall drove in three runs apiece. Tindall and Sean O'Brien hit back-to-back home runs in the Spartans' six-run second inning.

Mount Olive takes on national poll vote-getter Shepherd (W. Va.) Saturday at 11 a.m., then wraps up tournament play Sunday at 3 p.m. against tournament host and nationally second-ranked USC Aiken.