Top-seeded and nationally top-ranked Mount Olive was denied a fourth consecutive conference championship as No. 2 seed Coker scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the Trojans 7-4 in an elimination game in the 2013 Conference Carolinas Baseball Tournament Saturday at Burlington, N.C. The Trojans fell to third-seeded King 6-4 earlier in the day.
Mount Olive (45-6) has been ranked No. 1 in the NCAA II Southeast Region Poll in each of the past two weeks and hopes to earn an at-large bid to the Southeast Regional of the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship.
Mount Olive broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the eighth when Zak Orrison led off with a double and scored on Mike Mercurio's two-out single to give the Trojans a 3-2 lead. Coker tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on T.J. Giczkowski's rbi-double and the Cobras loaded the bases with nobody out. Frank Suarez's two-run double put Coker ahead to stay.
The Trojans put together a rally in the top of the ninth as pinch-hitters Bretton Gouthro and Luke Berry drew one-out walks. Gouthro scored on Matt Petrone's two-out rbi-single to bring the tying run to the plate. But Coker relief pitcher Zach Loraine got a strikeout for the final out.
This year's tournament marked the first time since 2009 and only the second time in the last 10 years Mount Olive failed to reach the championship game.
NCAA Tournament bids will be announced May 12, with the Southeast Regional taking place May 16-19. Mount Olive College and Town of Cary will co-host the National Finals for the fifth consecutive year May 25-June 1 at USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, N.C.
Mount Olive has one regular season contest remaining prior to the NCAA Tournament announcement as the Trojans play host to Winston-Salem State May 5 at Scarborough Field. Winston-Salem State is ranked No. 2 in this week's NCAA II Atlantic Region Poll. Game time is 1 p.m.