GASTONIA – In an opening round game against regionally-ranked opponents, the No. 4 seeded University of Mount Olive baseball team suffered a 5-4 extra-innings loss to No. 3 seed UNC Pembroke in the Conference Carolinas Championship at CaroMont Health Park May 4.
With the loss, the Trojans dropped to 32-15 overall after appearing No. 6 in the latest Southeast Regional rankings. Meanwhile, the Braves advanced in the championship bracket and improved to 37-13 while winning three of the last four meetings between the sides.
In the top of the first inning, junior Vito Patierno delivered a one-out double to right field before advancing to third on a groundout. The Braves escaped the top half of the inning after forcing a popout in the infield. UNC Pembroke got on the board in the bottom of the first inning after registering a pair of doubles to take a 1-0 edge. Following a scoreless second inning, the Trojans answered in the top of the third as freshman Davis Halstead drew a leadoff walk. The next at-bat, junior Mike Kenney produced a single through the left side before a fly out advanced Halstead to third base. Patierno followed and recorded his second double of the game into right-center to give UMO a 2-1 advantage. In the bottom half, UNC Pembroke countered with three runs on four hits to regain the lead after recording a pair of RBI singles, 4-2.
After four scoreless innings and a pitching duel between relievers, the Trojans responded in the top of the eighth. Senior Jack Casbarro drew a leadoff walk before advancing to third on a wild pitch and a fly out. With one out, senior J.T. Stone launched a two-run homer to right field, his seventh of the year, to tie the contest at 4-4. UNC Pembroke loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth before junior Hayden Myrick entered the game in relief and registered back-to-back outs to escaped the frame.
The game went into extra innings with Casbarro leading off the 10th with a single through the left side. With one out, Stone delivered an infield single before a flyout placed runners on the corners. The Braves avoided further damage to keep the contest tied. In the bottom half, a single and failed pickoff attempt placed the game-winning run on second. After both players reached safely on a fielder’s choice the bases were eventually loaded with one out. UNCP delivered the game-winning RBI single down the left-field line to win the game, 5-4.
Patierno finished the game two for five with two RBI, while Stone also went two for five with a two-run homer and one run scored. Cottle also produced a pair of hits with two stolen bases.
Myrick was saddled with the loss (3-2) after surrendering one run on three hits with two strikeouts in two innings.
Junior Justin Koehler pitched effectively in relief after scattering three hits with zero runs scored over 4 2/3 innings pitched with five strikeouts.
— From University of Mount Olive Athletics