Photo by LMU Athletics

Ethan Elliott, pictured, made sure that the Railsplitters’ NCAA tournament stay got off on the right foot, spinning a complete-game gem in a 3-1 win over Mount Olive to open the Southeast Regional on Thursday night in Tigerville, S.C.

Elliott wins record 12th game, LMU takes down Mount Olive, 3-1

TIGERVILLE, S.C. – Ethan Elliott made sure that the Railsplitters’ NCAA tournament stay got off on the right foot, spinning a complete-game gem in a 3-1 win over Mount Olive to open the Southeast Regional on Thursday night in Tigerville, S.C.

It’s been nearly three weeks since Elliott made his last appearance, but the lefty showed little signs of rust in limiting the fourth-seeded Trojans to only five hits over nine dazzling innings and 130 pitches of work. The All-SAC and D2CCA All-Southeast Region first team selection allowed a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, but retired 17 of the last 19 batters he faced after that, including a run of 12 straight to end the game.

The senior struck out 12 and walked just one to win his ninth consecutive start and improve to 12-2 on the season, surpassing Scot Shields for the single-season program wins mark that was established in 1996.

With the win, the Railsplitters (34-17) moved on to face top-seeded North Greenville on Friday. The winner of that game automatically advances to Saturday for the championship day of the Southeast Region 1 bracket.

The Lincoln Memorial offense wasn’t much better than Mount Olive’s (31-18), but did enough to get past the Trojans, who helped the Railsplitters’ cause by committing three costly errors.

Joe Stucky homered as part of a 2-for-4 day with two runs out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup, while nine-hole hitter Marco Rios went 2-for-4 with a double to account for the only other extra-base hit of the game for the Railsplitters. Dalton Dedas had a single and a walk, while Hunt had a single and scored a run.

The Railsplitters got going early as Hunt led off the game with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a fielding error by Mount Olive shortstop Blake McLean to put Lincoln Memorial out to a 1-0 lead through half an inning.

The Trojans led off their half of the first with a double from Joe Mason, but Elliott worked out of trouble with a fly out, a fielder’s choice and a strikeout.

Stucky then doubled the LMU lead in the visitor’s half of the third, blasting a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his fourth homer of the season to lead off the inning.

Elliott worked around a one-out double in the bottom of the third to keep the Trojans off the scoreboard, but Mount Olive checked into the scoring column in its next plate appearance when Nate Estes launched a solo shot over the left-field fence. That was the first home run allowed by Elliott since Queens hit two off him on March 22.

The Railsplitters erased that run in their very next trip to the plate, though, sparking a two-out rally to push the lead to 3-1. Stucky drove a single back up the middle to start the rally, and Rios followed with one in almost the exact same place to put two on base for Hunt. The centerfielder then hit a routine grounder at third baseman James Smibert, who let the ball scoot under his glove to allow Stucky to score from second.

That two-run cushion proved to be more than enough as Elliott was never really in trouble again after the Estes’ homer.

He walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the fifth, but struck out the side after that. Junior Snow led off the sixth with a double, but Elliott erased that threat by picking him off at second. The lefty then worked a five-pitch, three-up, three-down inning in the seventh before setting the side down in order again in the eighth. He struck out the last two batters of the game in yet another three-up, three-down ninth to close out the game.

Mason had a pair of doubles out of the leadoff spot to pace the Trojans offensively.

Reed Parris took the loss despite a solid overall effort as the righty allowed six hits and three runs (two earned) with five strikeouts and two walks over 6.1 innings to fall to 8-5 on the season. Kyle Davis went the final 2.2 frames, giving up only one hit without a run over that span to keep the Railsplitters in check.

The win moves Lincoln Memorial to 4-6 all-time in NCAA tournament play and avenges a 9-3 loss to Mount Olive in the program’s only previous meeting in the opener of the 2013 Southeast Regional.