Levitt strong early, fades in seventh
West Florida held to one run in first six innings of loss
CARY, N.C. -- Pete Levitt would probably be the go-to-guy on a lot of pitching staffs in the country. But here at Mount Olive, the junior pitches in the shadows of Carter Capps, the marquee pitcher in the nation in NCAA Division II.
Levitt doesn’t mind that the spotlight doesn’t shine as brightly on him. Because when game day rolls around, the standout right-hander is going to step onto the mound and find a way to get the job done. His 10-3 record tells you as much.
But here on a hot Thursday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, Levitt wasn’t able to pitch the Trojans (47-10) to another victory. His effort was valiant, without question. After all, he held down a high-powered West Florida offense to one run in the first six innings of play.
In the end, though, he wore down and took the loss as the No. 4 Argonauts knocked off the No. 2 Trojans 5-3 ending Mount Olive’s quest for its first national title since 2008.
“Baseball is a funny game sometimes,” Levitt said. “A couple of pitches go your way and the result is different. Things didn’t work out today but I gave it all I had.”
Levitt went 6.1 innings, ringing up seven strikeouts against a West Florida team that was averaging 7.3 runs per game and had scored 10 or more runs 17 times this year. The junior also battled through the heat and ended up allowing four runs on five hits.
His problems started in the seventh when he allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base, walking one and hitting another with a pitch. Korey Domenick then ripped a single to right and cut the Mount Olive lead to 3-2.
Levitt was pulled at that point but it didn’t matter. The No. 2 Trojans had lost their grip on the momentum and ended the seventh inning down 4-3 to the Argonauts.
Mount Olive tried to rally but never scored again. The Trojans finished with seven hits, including two by Jason Simone. Daniel Coffey tallied one hit and drove in two runs.
Coffey, a junior first baseman who wasn’t even an All-Conference Carolinas selection this season, ripped a two-run double to left that pushed the Trojans lead to 3-1 in the third inning.
The crowd cheered as both runners, Tyler Smith and Dan Hayduk, came across the plate, with Hayduk diving across the plate for the second run as he beat out the throw home.
Levitt tried to make the lead hold up. He didn’t give West Florida (51-9) much to work with in the fourth, fifth or sixth innings. And while he wasn’t able to finish the deal on this day, his head coach, Carl Lancaster is proud of what his pitcher accomplished this season.
Levitt came into the game with a 2.84 ERA and had rung up 92 strikeouts while walking only 39 batters.
“Early on this year, our offense was really good and our pitching was up and down,” Lancaster said. “Pete was one of the guys that stepped up. He got better and better as the year went on. But as you go deeper into the tournament, offenses get better. He battled hard. We just came up short.”
And while the book is closed on this season for Mount Olive, Levitt will never forget the memories made during the run to Cary.
“I’ll always remember this,” Levitt said. “I had a lot of fun coming here and being a part of this team. We had a great year, but we wished it could have ended with a national championship.”