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April 17, 2024 6:00 am

UMO third in conference baseball poll

MOUNT OLIVE – After finishing as conference tournament runner-up last season, the University of Mount Olive baseball team was slotted third in the preseason Conference Carolinas poll, which was released by the league office Jan. 24.

The Trojans posted a 34-20 overall record with an 18-12 mark in conference action in 2022. UMO finished fourth in the league standings following the regular season and advanced to the championship final. UMO returns a majority of its starting lineup from last season under fifth-year head coach Rob Watt.

In December, Collegiate Baseball released its preseason Top 40 poll with Mount Olive selected No. 12 in the nation. The Trojans were one of seven teams from the Southeast Region featured in the rankings with North Greenville picked as the preseason favorite and UNC Pembroke ranked No. 13 overall. The Southeast Region has won the last two national championships in Division II.

UMO players to watch for 2023 include Jack Casbarro, a senior infielder from Mount Olive. He was First Team All-Conference Carolinas, ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-American, D2CCA Third Team All-American, ABCA/Rawlings, NCBWA First Team All-Southeast Region and D2CCA Second Team All-Southeast Region in 2022 and 2021 Second Team All-Conference Carolinas.

Also a player to watch is Vito Patierno, a junior first baseman from Raleigh. He was 2022 Second Team All-Conference Carolinas and ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-Southeast Region as well as 2021 First Team All-Conference Carolinas. Another player to watch is Caleb Irwin, a senior pitcher from Marble.

North Greenville, the reigning NCAA Division II champions, was unanimously chosen as the preseason favorites and return several players from the title winning team in 2022. The Crusaders finished with a 54-10 record and went 9-2 in the NCAA Tournament. UNC Pembroke was selected second in the rankings after making a consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 38-17 mark last season. Mount Olive was picked third in the preseason poll, while Belmont Abbey and Erskine rounded out the top five in the rankings.

The Conference Carolinas championship is scheduled for May 3-7 at CaroMont Health Park in Gastonia, home of the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

— From University of Mount Olive Athletics