MOUNT OLIVE – The 28th-ranked UNC Pembroke baseball team used a two-out rally in the ninth to erase a 2-0 deficit, but top-ranked Mount Olive capitalized on seven errors by the Braves in the extra innings to post a 4-3 victory at the NCAA Southeast Regional on Friday evening.
The setback sets the Braves (41-16) up in an elimination contest with seventh-seeded Lincoln Memorial (34-18) on Saturday morning. First pitch for that contest is slated for 10 a.m. at Scarborough Field. The Trojans (48-8) will play on Saturday as well, and will face the winner of Friday’s late matchup between second-seeded North Georgia and third-seeded USC Aiken.
Mount Olive has now captured 14 of the 19 series matchups with the Braves since both teams made the jump to NCAA Division II status in 1993. The Trojans posted a 7-3 win over the Black & Gold in the 2011 NCAA Southeast Regional.
Lucas Ledford doubled in a run and scored once on a 2-for-3 outing to lead the Braves, while Roberto Rivera matched a Peach Belt Conference record with his 10th triple of the season to highlight a 3-for-6 day at the plate. Nick Debo (3-for-6) singled three times on six trips to the plate, while Stibel Aleman Saba doubled in a run on a key pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth.
Zach Mozingo (4-0) doubled, walked twice and drove in a run on a 3-for-5 hitting line to pace the Trojans, while also picking up the win with 5-2/3 innings of relief work. Jesse Stinnett (5-5) struck out three in 2-1/3 innings of relief work for the Braves, but saddled the tough luck loss despite yielding just two hits and a lone unearned run.
Both teams went down relatively quiet through the first 4-1/2 innings, but the Trojans broke up the monotony in the bottom of the fifth when Sweeting drilled a one-out single to left field and scored moments later on Mozingo’s double to the gap in left field. Mount Olive tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, getting Sweeting aboard, again, with a two-out single, and then finishing off the rally on Surum’s RBI single to the gap in right field.
The Black & Gold was not without its chances to scratch the scoreboard, especially early, but the Trojans quashed a handful of two-out opportunities. UNCP left the bases loaded in the third, and stranded lone runners in scoring position in each of the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings as well.
Aleman Saba doubled in Ledford with two outs in the ninth, and two ill-timed errors on the same play minutes later allowed pinch runner Anthony Burke to rumble home from second base. The Braves would eventually grab a 3-2 advantage on Ledford’s RBI single in the 10th.
The Trojans put their first two runners aboard in the bottom of the 10th via consecutive errors, and pushed the tying run across with the next at-bat on a costly throwing error.
Mozingo singled to lead off the home half of the 13th inning, and moved into scoring position on a failed pickoff attempt. Stinnett issued a free pass to Ellis to put the force out into play, but Jose Lopez put a pitch into play with the ensuing at-bat, and Mozingo eventually came around to score the game-winning run.
Story Credit: UNC Pembroke