Mount Olive Wins 2014 Conference Carolinas Baseball Championship With 10-9 Win Over King

Mount Olive Wins 2014 Conference Carolinas Baseball Championship With 10-9 Win Over King

The No. 1 seeded University of Mount Olive wins the 2014 Conference Carolinas Baseball Championship with a 10-9 win over King University at the Burlington Athletics Stadium in Burlington, N.C. Jay Gonzalez went 5-for-5 with four runs scored and three stolen bases on his way to be named the Tournament MVP.

Mount Olive (40-11) got the bats swinging first in the Championship game. Senior center fielder Jay Gonzalez doubled down the left field line to lead off the first. Luke Barry drove Gonzalez on the next pitch and the Trojans took the opening lead.

King (24-29-1) answered in the bottom half as Tyler Gaby homered to left center to lead off for the Tornado. Stephen Mullins singled to center and then advanced to third after a failed pickoff attempt. Tyler Raymond walked and J.D. Wallace singled through the right side to plate Mullins and move Raymond to third.

Justin Trent singled after he laid a bunt down and beat the throw out and Raymond came in for the final run in the first and King jumped out to a 3-1 lead.

The Tornado added a couple runs in the fourth. Gaby drew the lead-off walk and moved onto second with a groundout to second. Raymond hit a long fly ball off the center field wall for a double and Gaby scored. Raymond advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball to push King ahead further.

Mount Olive wanted to make the game more interesting in the fifth. Zak Orrison singled to right to lead off the inning. Orrison stole second and then was picked off after he was unable to get back in time. Gonzalez came through with a single in between the first and second baseman to get Mount Olive a base runner. Barry came up a knocked a pitch into left field to move Gonzalez to third. Reitano drove in the second run for the Trojans. After Reitano stole second, Rob Shipman brought Barry home with a ground out.

King added a single run in the fifth off a Garrett Cook single that brought in Trent.

The Trojans had a hill to come back from and made a run in the seventh. Gonzalez led it off with a beautiful bunt down the third base line. Gonzalez advanced to second with one away on a balk. Reitano drew a walk and two consecutive hit by pitches to Shipman and Manning loaded the bases. Bretton Gouthro pinched hit and reached on a fielder's choice but the throw to second sailed into the outfield and Reitano and Shipman came home.

Britt singled through the right side and plated Manning. DeAndre Allen got the final RBI of the five run seventh with a groundout and Mount Olive took the lead from King for the first time in the game.

King did not go away in the bottom of the seventh as a three run home run by Cook that brought home Tom Hooker and Trent, to regain the lead back for the Tornado 9-8.

Gonzalez looked to tie the game back up in the eighth as he singled to left to lead off. Barry laid down the sacrifice bunt and moved Gonzalez to second. Gonzalez then stole third and Reitano grounded out to tie the game as Gonzalez touched home.

Manning started off the ninth for Mount Olive with a single that dropped into center. Gouthro drew a walk and Britt reached on a fielder's choice that took out Manning at third. Dylan Harvey pinched ran for Gouthro at second and a double steal was successful to put two runners into scoring position. Allen hit the what proved to be the game winning line drive to the second baseman. He was however unable to field the ball cleanly on the ground as it went past him and Harvey came in to give the Trojans the lead for the final time 10-9.

Zach Bernard came back out on the mound after pitching two thirds in the eighth to shut the door 1-2-3 for Mount Olive and clinch its 12th title in 19 years.

Bernard (2-2) was credited with the win after pitching one and two thirds of spotless baseball. He also added a strikeout to his line as well.

Bernard commented on coming in for the first time in the conference tournament.

"It was the first time I pitched in this tournament so I was chopping at the bit to get in there and throw strike and give my guys behind me a chance to get a chance to field the ball and not really give them anything to hit really and pound the zone. It wasn't my best stuff today but it was good enough to get the job done".

Alexander Gonzalez (6-7) picked up the loss for King as he went two innings and allowed two runs (one earned) off two hits.

Head Coach Carl Lancaster commented on the game in a post-game interview:

"We just kept battling, the story was Bernard he came in and just shut the door. We felt like he would if we ever got into the position, it just worked out our way. We put a lot of guys in the game and put it together and were fortunate enough to come out on top."

Lancaster also commented of Gonzalez performance saying

"Jay is Jay he's been good ever day out. You know last night he had a hard time with that left hander he just had his number, but that's baseball it happens to people; they say you have to come back and go again. He came out today and stole some bases and as a team we were able to put it together".

Tournament MVP Jay Gonzalez also spoke after the game about his day and the team's comeback.

"I feel absolutely amazing. I talked to coach Watt about my hitting approach because I was pulling off last night and he gave me a new approach just trying to keep my front shoulder down and drive the ball the opposite way and it paid off. I don't think there's a team in the nation that can compete with Mount Olive".

Mount Olive placed five Trojans on the 2014 Conference Carolinas Baseball All-Tournament Team:

Derek Justice
Justin Manning
Cody Britt
Braden Reitano
Tournament MVP – Jay Gonzalez