WILSON, N.C.— Bobby Leeper’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth gave No. 1 seed Mount Olive College a dramatic 5-4 victory over No. 4 seed Pfeiffer University in the 2010 Conference Carolinas Baseball Tournament on Sunday at Fleming Stadium.The win left both teams with one loss in the tournament, forcing a second game to be played to decide the tournament champion.
Pfeiffer (27-25) led the contest throughout, and entered the ninth just three outs away from its first league title since 2005. However, the Trojans (37-9) had other ideas. Joseph Westbrook led off the Mount Olive ninth with a single through the left side, and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Topher Ellis. Tyler Smith walked and was replaced on the base path by pinch-runner Jackson Massey. Ryan Faison grounded out for the second out of the inning, but the two runners both moved up a base, setting the stage for Leeper’s at-bat.
Pfeiffer reliever Luke Wilhelm (6-4) quickly got ahead in the count 0-2, but hung an off-speed pitch that Leeper ripped back through the middle for the game-winning hit. Leeper, who entered the game batting almost .450 for the season, had been 0-for-4 in the game and just 4-for-18 in the tournament prior to the hit.
The hit was one of just eight in the game for Mount Olive, the national leader in the category at nearly 14.5 per game. Pfeiffer starter Eric Shuford limited the Trojans to five hits and two runs over his 4 1/3 innings of work, and reliever Ethan Marsh did not give up a hit in his three innings of work.
By contrast, the Falcons had 12 hits in the game, nine of those off Mount Olive starter Curtis Hudson during his seven innings of work.
Pfeiffer took a 1-0 lead in the third when Hunter Boehne was hit by a pitch from Hudson, stole second and scored on an RBI double into the left field corner by Zack Pou. One inning later, the Falcons added to their total with a pair of runs. With two outs, Eric Shoemaker walked, moved to third on an Aarin Sharpe single and scored on a single through the left side by Jesse Dunn. Boehme followed with a single to right field, scoring Sharpe and giving the Falcons a 3-0 advantage.
After being kept off the board by Shuford through the first four innings, Mount Olive finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Airlon Vinson led off the inning with a double to the warning track in left-center, and two batters later Ellis doubled him home with a shot down the right field line. Smith followed with an RBI single, cutting the Pfeiffer lead to 3-2.
Pfeiffer pulled ahead by two again in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Myles Pearl, but Mount Olive got the run back in the bottom of the frame when Faison walked, moved all the way to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch. The Trojans threatened for more, getting two runners in scoring position, but Wilhelm forced a groundout to second from Vinson to end the inning.
One inning later, however, Wilhelm could not work his way out of the same situation against Leeper, and Mount Olive found itself still alive for its fourth crown in the last five years.
Westbrook had two hits to lead Mount Olive offensively, while Pearl, Lyon, Sharpe and Boehme each had a pair for Pfeiffer.
Jeremy Nowak (1-0), making just his sixth appearance of the year, earned the pitching win by making just one pitch, inducing a groundout to short to end the top of the ninth.