Hot Bats Help Tornado Sweep Crusaders
TIGERVILLE, S.C. – Sophomore Tyler Gaby collected a team-best five hits during the Tornado's Saturday doubleheader against North Greenville, helping his team in a clean weekend sweep. King outlasted the Crusaders in 11 innings, 5-4, and brought out the brooms with a 4-2 victory in game two.
GAME ONE: King 5, North Greenville 4 (F/11)
Cody Snyder served as the hero for game one, driving home the eventual game-winning run on a two-out single. Garrett Cook (Luray, Va.) reached on a fielding error by NGU first baseman Logan Craig and advanced to second when Shane Timberlake was hit by a Allen Staton pitch. With two outs, the Bluff City, Tenn., native stepped to the plate and ripped a single to right. Cook jumped on his horse and beat the throw to the plate to go ahead of the Crusaders, 5-4.
Wesley Houser (Knoxville, Tenn.), entering his third full inning of work, faced the top of the North Greenville lineup but sat them down in order by forcing a fly out, strike out, and a ground out. Houser (W, 6-4) blew through the seven batters he faced and never let a runner past second base in 3.2 innings of work.
King scored all of its runs while batting with two outs, beginning with its first score of the game on Garrett Cook's RBI single in the second, scoring Josh Huffman who doubled just before.
After North Greenville tied the game, the Tornado posted a three-run eighth inning on three consecutive two-out, extra-base hits from the top of the order. Again with two outs, Tyler Gaby (Bristol, Tenn.) and Cody Snyder hit consecutive doubles. Snyder's two-bagger scored Gaby to take a 2-1 lead and set up Carl Roberts (Blountville, Tenn.). The sophomore first baseman hit his third home run of the season, a two-run job to put his team up 4-1.
The Crusaders responded with three runs in the home half of the eighth, tying the game and forcing extra innings. North Greenville hit three straight singles, moving station to station, to load the bases. Reiss Stanley (Lenoir City, Tenn.) struck out Allen Staton, but walked the next two batters allowing two runs to score. Houser entered and struck out Taylor Hollifield to begin his relief stint, but hit Markus Duckworth to allow the tying run to score and give Stanley a no-decision.
Gaby went 3-for-6 in game one with one run scored to lead the Tornado. Roberts' only hit was the team's most meaningful while also leading with two RBI. Huffman and Snyder also had multi-hit days, each posting two hits.
GAME TWO: King 4, North Greenville 2 (F/7)
King continued its timely hitting in game to, scoring each of the game's first four runs in the team's third win of the weekend.
After stranding runners in scoring position in their first three at bats, the Tornado pushed home a pair of runs in the fourth inning behind two hits and an error. Cook reached on an error for the second time of the day and advanced to second. Jarrod Payne (Johnson City, Tenn.) drove Cook home on a single, giving King a 1-0 lead. Bryant Walker drilled a run-scoring double to give the Tornado a two-run lead.
King returned in the sixth with two more runs to extend their lead to four. The Tornado loaded the bases after Brad Blanton was issued a leadoff walk followed by consecutive singles by Bryant Walker and Shane Timberlake. North Greenville reliever Griffin Spires tossed a wild pitch, allowing Blanton to score from third and advance Walker and Timberlake. Tyler Gaby pushed another insurance run across with a sac fly to center, scoring Walker and giving King a 4-0 lead.
Wesley Houser threw five strong innings, allowing only four hits over that time. The Crusaders gave a scare in the sixth when Derek Fulmer hit a two-run home run to half the lead, but the King bullpen held the lead intact . Dustin Pannell finished the sixth inning, forcing Andrew Lawrence to fly out. David Pritchard (Hamilton, Ohio) earned his second save of the season, entering after Pannell walked the leadoff man in the seventh and recording the next three outs in succession.
Tyler Gaby led the team with five hits during Saturday's doubleheader and three of hits were doubles. Wesley Houser threw a combined 9.1 innings and allowed only two runs over eight hits while striking out three.
With two wins on Saturday, King has now swept North Greenville as it recorded its first three wins against the Crusaders in its history. The Tornado now improve to 25-16 overall and are now 14-10 (.583) in conference play. They leap North Greenville for the second spot in the West Division and is now third overall, by league winning percentage. Six of the top seven teams are separated by no more than three games in the playoff chase.
The Tornado will play Belmont Abbey on April 20-21 in its last Conference Carolinas series of the season. They will play state-line rival Virginia Intermont on Wednesday, April 18, at Boyce Cox Field (Bristol, Va). First pitch is set for 6 p.m.