BELMONT, N.C. – The Belmont Abbey baseball team handed number one ranked Mount Olive Trojans their first conference loss of the season. Matt McGarry punched a two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Crusaders the 3-2 win. The Abbey improves to 22-13 on the season with a 13-6 Conference Carolinas record. Mount Olive is now 26-6 on the year and 15-1 in conference.
The Crusaders took the lead in the first after just two pitches when Nick Beinlich laced the first pitch into the left-center field gap for a triple and McGarry drove him in with a ground ball to short on the next pitch.
Mount Olive tied the game in the third after a double by Trae Sweeting and single off the bat of Ricky Surum. In the fifth, the Trojans took the lead after a Tony Salvaggio single and Surum recorded an RBI double.
Mount Olive took the 2-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth before Josh Genthe walked and Nick Beinlich doubled off the top of the right-field wall. With runners on second and third and one away, McGarry hit a hard ground ball up the middle into center field. Both Genthe and Beinlich scored to give the Crusaders the 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.
Both starters, Cameron Busby and Bruce Zimmerman, held a firm grip on the opponent's offense as they battled deep into the contest. Busby went 6.2 innings allowing just two earned runs on nine scattered hits. He only allowed two walks as he struck out three. Zimmerman tossed 7.1 innings in his first loss of the season. He allowed three earned runs on five hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Brady Hill came on in relief for the Crusaders in the seventh, with a runner on third, but Hill's strikeout ended the potential threat.
Robert Frantzis earned his third win of the season, pitching 1.2 perfect innings, fanning three batters.
The conference series continues tomorrow with a double header beginning at 1:00 p.m. at Abbey Yard.