DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Cory Rhodes turned in a career performance on Friday against North Georgia University when the junior threw a no-hitter as part of the Tornado's 3-0 victory over the Saints. Rhodes struck out a career-high nine hitters in the win, setting the tone for the three-game set that will continue Saturday at 1 p.m.
Rhodes (1-0) stole the show by displaying a dominating performance on the bump for the Tornado that included a career-high nine strikeouts in just his second start of the season. The junior from Kissimmee, Fla. struck out at least one batter in every inning beginning in the second. In that frame, he also began a steak of nine straight batters retired and sat down 21 of the next 22 batters with the only base runner in that span coming on a walk.
In innings two through eight, Rhodes and the Tornado defense went three up, three down in aiding toward the no-hit shutout effort. The only runners allowed were put on via walk or hit by pitch. In the fifth, a streak of nine consecutive retired batters was broken by one of Rhodes' three walks but senior catcher Josh Huffman (Lynchburg, Va.) caught Devin Gearhart stealing at second base to keep the bases clear. Rhodes went on to sit down the next 12 batters in a row.
Rhodes' faced losing the shutout after issuing a two-out walk to Jesse Strickland, his second of the inning, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. After pitching coach Luke Howard took a trip to the mound to calm the right-hander down, Rhodes recorded his ninth and final strikeout by getting pinch hitter Cameron Crawford to go down swinging.
King (3-1) scored its first run in the top of the seventh when Steven Todoschuck (Stoney Creek, Ontario) scored from first base after an error was made in right field.
Sola, a junior from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, led the Tornado with two hits and a run scored on the day. Six different Tornado players collected the team's seven hits against a trio of NGU pitchers.
Christian Turnipseed (0-1) went 7.1 innings on the hill for the Saints and struck out nine in the loss.
NGU and King will meet again on Saturday for a 1 p.m. first pitch. They will close the three-game series on Sunday with a 12 noon start.