MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – The Coker Cobras upset nationally top-ranked Mount Olive in game one of their Conference Carolinas doubleheader on Saturday. The 10-9 Cobras win, was the first conference loss of the season for the Trojans. Jason Sherrer went 5-for-5 with five runs batted in, but Coker broke a 2-2 tie in the second inning and led the rest of the way. The loss ended the Trojans’ 26-game winning streak against conference opponents, including four straight wins in last year’s conference tournament.
In game two, Erik Lovett drove in six runs with a pair of home runs, including a first-inning grand slam as Mount Olive defeated Coker 11-5 at Scarborough Field. Ryan Schlecht went six innings to improve to 9-0 on the season.
Mount Olive (35-4 overall, 16-1 Conference Carolinas) never led in game one, but jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the nightcap. The Trojans loaded the bases in the bottom of the first in the nightcap on back-to-back singles by David Cooper and Jesse Lancaster, and a one-out walk to Sherrer. Lovett drove the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for his first grand slam home run as a Trojan.
In the second inning, consecutive singles by Anthony Williams, Cooper and Lancaster brought in a run, and Alex Vertcnik’s rbi-ground out made it 6-0. Lancaster scored on Sherrer’s single and Lovett once again drove the first pitch over the right field fence to complete the five-run inning. Lovett was walked on four pitches in his next at-bat.
Schlecht held Coker (13-25, 4-16) to one hit through three scoreless innings before the Cobras struck for three runs in the top of the fourth. Julio Gomez’s leadoff double and Trey Lynch’s rbi-triple highlighted the inning. Coker added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull within 9-5.
Coker pitcher Brad Boob (3-8) retired 10 of 11 batters after Lovett’s second home run, but Mount Olive added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth. Josh Harrison led off with a single and eventually scored on Lancaster’s two-out single. Vertcnik followed with a triple to right.
Craig Beasley used a double-play ball in the top of the seventh for a three up-three down inning to close out the win. Schlecht allowed six hits and finished with six strikeouts for the Trojans.
In game one, Coker took a quick 2-0 lead on Chris Amman’s two-run homer with two outs in the top of the first. Mount Olive evened the score in the bottom of the first on Sherrer’s two-out, two-run triple. Coker took the lead for good when Lynch hit a one-out double and scored on Ricky Deleandro’s single to center. Lynch went 4-for-4 for the Cobras.
Mount Olive trailed 6-3 heading into the bottom of the third, but back-to-back rbi-doubles by Lovett and Sherrer pulled the Trojans within a run. Both teams scored in each of the first three innings before they were both held scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings.
Coker capitalized on Trojan miscues in the top of the sixth to plate a pair of unearned runs. A passed ball and a wild pitch brought in the first run and Amman’s sacrifice fly brought in the second run of the inning. Preston Ford singled home a run in the seventh to extend the Cobras’ lead to 9-5.
The Trojans answered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh on rbi-doubles by Sherrer and Rich Racobaldo. Coker made it a 10-7 game in the eighth on Lynch’s two-out bases loaded single. Mount Olive left fielder Lancaster prevented a second run, throwing Will Poole out at the plate trying to score from second.
Sherrer’s rbi-single in the bottom of the eighth made it a two-run game, but the Trojans left two runners on base for the third consecutive inning.
Trojan reliever Anthony Hernandez, Mount Olive’s fourth pitcher of the game, got into and out of a jam in the top of the ninth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Hernandez got a called strike three to end the jam.
Racobaldo led off the bottom of the ninth with an opposite-field triple to right. Williams drew a one-out walk and Racobaldo scored on Cooper’s single – his fourth hit of the game - to pull the Trojans within a run. Vertcnik drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but was called for interference on Lovett’s ground ball to the right side to end the game.
Mount Olive left 13 runners on base, while Coker left 12 stranded.
The loss was the Trojans’ first against a conference opponent since falling to Anderson March 31, 2007. Starter Casey Hodges (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing six runs in three innings. Paul Novicki allowed two runs – both unearned – in three innings of relief. Kyle Jones pitched the seventh and eighth for Mount Olive.
Jesse Hatchell (3-5) went seven innings for Coker and picked up the win, despite allowing seven runs and five walks. Mikael Owens pitched the final two innings and recorded the save. Both pitchers received defensive help from Deleandro at second base, who robbed three Trojans of base hits in the hole on the right side.
The two teams conclude their three-game series with a single game Sunday at Scarborough Field. Game time is 1 p.m.