5. MOUNT OLIVE TROJANS
Final 2012 Ranking: 10
Mount Olive at one time went 32-1 during the season and far outpaced the nation with 572 runs scored (St. Cloud State was second with 482 with eight more games played), but lost their first two games of the Southeast Regional for a much earlier than anticipated elimination. The Trojans will lose some of their pop with departed Chicago Cub draft pick Jacob Rogers who tied for sixth nationally in homeruns, but return a loaded lineup nonetheless which will make MOC another favorite to play for regional and national titles.
The Trojans most potent bat belongs to 2012 Southeast Region Player of the Year Geno Escalante. The former Cal State Fullerton catching recruit enters the year on a 46 game hitting streak and batted .436 last season with a .662 slugging percentage and 70 RBI (just three being the national leader). He will be rejoined by another former DI player, SS Mike Mercurio who batted .345 and was named a Third Team All American after transferring from High Point. Head Coach Carl Lancaster will also be able to pencil 3B Jermaine Berry and OF Braden Reitano back into his everyday lineup. Berry was a named to the All Southeast Region Second Team after hitting .380 with only 11 strikeouts in 192 at bats and Reitano batted .347 with 25 extra base hits to earn inclusion to the All Conference Carolinas First Team. The Trojans also have added Canadian outfielder Bretton Gouthro who left Lethbridge College was the all time hits leader and was named First Team All Conference twice.
The Trojans pitching will be nearly as formidable as the offense with Matt Dillon and Zach Smith back on the mound. Dillon was the Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Year after going 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 66 Ks in 83.1 innings pitched. Smith’s numbers were just as impressive, going 8-2 with a 2.31 ERA and four complete games. Derek Justice showed promise as a freshman, appearing in 12 games in both starting and relief roles. He went 4-0 and fanned 38 batters in 35 innings. Alex Regan is another pitching prospect who has transferred to MOC via Lethbridge College. While pitching for the Bulls, Regan posted a 1.07 ERA and was named First Team All Conference.