The Belmont Abbey baseball team extended its 5-4 lead with two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth and the Crusaders thwarted a ninth inning Mount Olive rally for a 10-7 win over the 12th-ranked Trojans this afternoon at Abbey Yard. Belmont Abbey improves to 22-19 overall and 15-10 in Conference Carolinas, while the Trojans drop to 34-11 overall and 18-6 in league play.
Today's win is the Crusaders first over Mount Olive since February 26, 2012. The Trojans had won last 7 in a row and it is the Abbey's first win at home over Mount Olive since April 3, 2011, a 6-5 win in 11 innings.
The victory clinches a spot for Belmont Abbey in next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament.
The lead was short lived, as the Trojans took advantage of an Abbey error in the bottom of the inning to score three times, as Rob Shipman laced an RBI double down the leftfield line. Rob Lang followed with an RBI groundout, then DeAndre Allen gave the Trojans their first lead with a single to center, scoring Shipman.
Belmont Abbey came right back in the third, as Anthony Dimino led off with a double to left. After two strikeouts, Armen Calilao blooped a single to right center, scoring Dimino to knot the game at three.
Mount Olive moved back in front in the fourth, as Zach Orrison's sacrifice fly to center scored Lang, who led off the inning getting hit by a pitch.
That would be the last Trojan run until the top of the ninth as the Crusaders scored six unanswered runs, starting with the tying run in the bottom of the fourth as Wright scored when Dimino reached on an error.
Belmont Abbey clung to its one run lead, using strong defense with two of its four double play groundouts to escape jams in the fifth and eighth innings.
The Crusaders extended their lead in the seventh with two runs, the first coming on Weston Clarke's solo homer to left. That was followed by Calilao's double to left center and he later scored on Matt McGarry's single to center to give the Abbey a three run cushion at 7-4.
Mount Olive was held scoreless in the seventh, and the Crusaders struck for three more in the eighth, all on one swing of the bat, as Nick Nunziato blasted his twelfth homer of the year, a three run shot to right center, scoring Krause and Conor Kwalwasser ahead of him to move the lead to 10-4.
The visitors scored three times in the top of the ninth, getting solo homers from Joe Koehler and a two run shot from Lang, but Ryan Allen struck out the final batter to seal the 10-7 win.
Belmont Abbey starter Harry Ferguson earned his first win since February 20 as he moved his record to 5-7. He gave up four runs, two earned, on eight hits in five innings. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. Brandon O'Sullivan held the lead for three innings, scattering three hits over three scoreless innings, striking out one. Allen pitched the ninth.
Mount Olive starter Gunnar Kines fell to 7-2 as he pitched six and one-thirds innings, throwing 123 pitches. He gave up four runs, two earned, while striking out ten in six and one-thirds innings.
Belmont Abbey finished with 12 hits as Clarke, Calilao and Kwalwasser each finished with two. Clarke and Nunziato each had three RBI.
The series concludes Saturday at noon as the two teams will play a doubleheader to close out the regular season. Six seniors will be honored before game one, starting around 11:30.