MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Mike Knox went 4-for-5 with a home run and five runs batted in, and came within a double of hitting for the cycle as Mount Olive defeated Coker 18-3 in game one of a Conference Carolinas baseball doubleheader Sunday at Scarborough Field. Bobby Leeper, Jeremy Nowak and Airlon Vinson collected three hits apiece in the Trojans’ 21-hit attack.
Mount Olive (4-0 overall, 2-0 Conference Carolinas) completed the sweep with a 9-2 victory in the nightcap as Carter Capps combined with two relievers on a seven-inning four-hitter and Leeper sparked the offense with a two-run homer. Leeper also homered in the opener.
The start of the three-game conference-opening series was pushed back a day after Friday night’s snowfall wiped out play Saturday. Trojan players and coaches spent Saturday clearing snow of Scarborough Field to make the field playable Sunday.
In game one, Knox led off the bottom of the second with his second home run of the season, a line drive that stayed just inside the left field foul pole and cleared the fence by inches. The homer gave Mount Olive a 1-0 lead after Trojan centerfielder Leeper threw a runner out at the plate in the top of the second.
The Trojans capitalized on two wild pitches and two passed balls to score four runs in the bottom of the fourth and break a 1-1 tie. Ryan Faison’s rbi-single capped a four-run fifth inning to give Mount Olive a 9-1 lead.
Trojan starting pitcher Sean Lydon (2-0) held Coker (5-3, 0-2) to one run through five innings before running into trouble in the top of the sixth. Nick Fuoco, who hit a two-out rbi-double in the third, led off the sixth with a double. Jordan Buenting and Daniel Hiatt followed with rbi-singles to pull the Cobras within 9-3.
But Lydon got out of the inning with his fifth strikeout of the game. Jackson Massey allowed only one hit and struck out four in three scoreless innings.
Leeper led off the bottom of the sixth with his second home run of the season and Mount Olive added two runs in the seventh on Hayduk’s rbi-double and Tyler Smith’s run-scoring single to extend the lead to 12-3. The Trojans capped the game with a six-run eighth inning, highlighted by Knox’s three-run triple after Leeper, Jesse Lancaster and Nowak hit consecutive singles to load the bases with nobody out.
Coker starter Mike Palko (0-1), the first of six Cobra pitchers, went 4 1/3 innings.
In the nightcap, Mount Olive jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Nowak’s run-scoring double and Vinson’s two-out rbi-single. Knox’s rbi-single highlighted a two-run third inning, but Coker turned a double play to prevent a big inning.
Faison doubled down the right field line with one out in the fourth and Leeper followed with a towering fly ball over the left-center field fence to extend the Trojans’ lead to 6-0.
Capps (2-0) took a shutout into the fifth inning before Coker got on the scoreboard. An infield error led to the first run and Fuoco’s bases-loaded single brought the tying run to the plate with only one out. But Faison caught a line drive and stepped on second base for the inning-ending double play.
Capps combined with David Combs and Nowak on a four-hitter. Combs retired the side in order in the sixth and Nowak, who started the game in right field, recorded three strikeouts in the seventh inning. Capps finished with six strikeouts, striking out the side in the fourth after allowing a leadoff single.
Mount Olive added three runs in the bottom of the fifth as Dylan Holton hit a pinch-hit rbi-double and scored on Faison’s single. Lancaster capped the inning with a triple to the fence in left-center.
Coker starter Michael Rogers (1-1) suffered his first loss of the season.
The two teams conclude their three-game series Monday with a single game at Scarborough Field. First pitch is 1 p.m.