February 9, 2013

King Erases Eight-Run Deficit but Falls Short at NGU

Garrett Cook's fourth-inning grand slam helped erase an eight-run deficit but the Saints' pulled away with an 11-9 win.

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Saturday's rematch between the King University Tornado and the North Georgia University Saints seemed to be over by the third inning but an eight-run fourth renewed the dual. The Saints immediate response with a three-run third was enough distance that the Tornado could not make up, leading to an 11-9 decision in the hosts favor. King is now 3-2 on the season and will complete the series against NGU on Sunday at 12 noon from Bob Stein Stadium.

North Georgia plated eight runs over the first three innings against King starter Reiss Stanley (Lenoir City, Tenn.), including a five-run opening frame. The Saints scored all five runs with two outs with run-scoring base hits by Devin Gearhart, Brett Wright, Eason Spivey, and Derek Hooper in succession. The inning ended when left fielder Tyler Gaby (Bristol, Tenn.) pegged Hooper at second base as he attempted to stretch the hit into a double.

With three more runs over the next two innings, the Saints built an eight-run lead before the Tornado could register a hit against starting pitcher Jacob Beauchamp. The second time around the order proved more successful as King erased NGU's 8-0 lead and batted around the lineup.

The Tornado belted a pair of home runs with Stephen Mullins (Bluff City, Tenn./Tennessee H.S.) beginning the scoring. The sophomore returned to his All-Conference form by belting a one-out, two-run homer to start chipping into North Georgia's lead. A pair of walks and a single later, junior Garrett Cook (Luray, Va.) stepped to the plate and cleared the bases with one swing of the bat, cranking his first home run of the season with a grand slam to cut the lead to two runs, 8-6.

The rally continued as Beauchamp's control failed to regain itself. He was lifted for reliever AGAR but three walks helped push one more King run home and created an early exit after retiring just one batter. Clint Spratlin (1-0) entered the game and immediately issued the seventh walk of the inning to plate one more run and tie the game, 8-8.

The momentum was short-lived after the Saints retaliated with three runs against King reliever Alex Gonzalez (Rincon, Puerto Rico). The junior did not retire a batter after loading the bases with a walk, bunt single, and a hit batsman. Sophomore Alex Martin made his second appearance of the season and allowed all three runners to score, though all earned runs went to Gonzalez (1-1). Martin hit his first batter to plate the first run and forced a 6-4-3 double play to allow the eventual game-winning run to score with one runner remaining. A run-scoring double by Tremayne Toorie gave NGU an 11-8 advantage.

North Georgia settled down and the bullpen guided the Saints the rest of the way, allowing on one run to the Tornado over the remaining five innings. King mustered only three hits and left four men in scoring position over that time. Their lone run came in the top of the seventh when Cook recorded his fifth RBI with a double to right center field. King left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth after John Lamay struck out Geoffrey Cieslewitz looking to end the game.

Cook led the Tornado with a 2-for-5 day at the plate and recorded five RBI on the day. Mullins went 2-for-4 and plated three runs. Martin finished the game on the mound for King, tossing five complete innings and retiring 16 of the 18 batters he faced, including two strikeouts.

King (3-2) will complete the series with North Georgia on Sunday, Feb. 10. The rubber match will begin at 12 noon at Bob Stein Stadium.