Virginia Intermont comes back to stun Tornado

BRISTOL, Tenn. – For the second time in as many days, the King University baseball team got a quality start, but the Tornado fell in the late innings to cross-town rival Virginia Intermont College. Mark Hode got the start and tossed six solid innings, allowing two runs on four hits, but the Cobras plated a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning to top the home-standing Tornado 5-4.

The Tornado (1-9-1) got on the board in the third inning as Alex Azeredo started the frame with a walk before he was sacrificed to second by Cody Rogers. A Tom Hooker groundout moved Azeredo to second before he scored on a wild pitch to give King a 1-0 lead. King added to the lead in the fifth as Hooker and Garrett Cook both were hit by pitches before Stephen Mullins ripped an RBI double down the left field line to stretch the Tornado lead to 2-0.

However, the Cobras (1-4) answered in the top of the sixth inning as Ryan Hankins ripped a double to right center to score one, and Alex Couch followed with a run scoring single to left field to even the score at two. Virginia Intermont grabbed a 3-2 lead with an unearned run in the seventh inning before King responded in the bottom of the frame.

Hooker drew a leadoff walk before Cook sacrificed him to second base. Mullins followed with another double down the left field line to even the score at three. After a pitching change, J.D. Wallace ripped double down the right field line to score Mullins and give the Tornado at 4-3 advantage.

The score remained the same until the Cobras mounted a rally in the ninth inning. Adrian Rivera drew a leadoff walk and stole second before Fabian Placencia drew a walk to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up before Hankins ripped a sacrifice fly to deep center field to even the score at four. The bases were then loaded when Placencia scored a wild pitch to give Virginia Intermont a 5-4 lead. Mitch Stophel got a groundout to end the threat and bring the Tornado to bat.

Cook tried to get the offense going in the bottom of the ninth with a one-out single, but I wasn't meant to be as he took off on a hit and run and Mullins hit a fly ball to center field. The ball was caught and the Cobras made the throw to first to turn the double play and take the 5-4 win.

In his first start of the season Hode lasted six innings and allowed just the two runs on four hits while striking out three. Wallace and Mullins paced the offense with five hits between the two. Wallace went 3-for-4 with one run batted in while Mullins went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs.

King will be in action again on Saturday when the host Notre Dame College (Ohio) in a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.