BRISTOL, Tenn. – Following a pair of tough midweek losses, the King University baseball team rebounded when they faced Conference Carolinas foe Belmont Abbey College on Friday afternoon. Tyler Gaby sparked a rally with score tied in the eighth inning as he crushed a home that gave King the lead. The Tornado added four more runs in the frame to take the contest 11-6.
Tyler Raymond continued his recent hot streak igniting the Tornado offense with a leadoff single in the second inning. Later in the inning, King (12-18-1, 4-3 CC) had runners on the corners when Hunter Smith rolled a single through the right side that scored Geoff Cieslewitz who singled earlier in the frame. Cody Rogers followed with a double down the left field line to give King a 2-0 lead after two innings.
The King offense stayed hot in the fourth, but couldn't push any runs across, leaving the base loaded. The Tornado did break through again in the fifth inning on Cieslewitz RBI single through the right side, and Justin Trent sacrifice fly to stretch the Tornado lead to 4-0 after five.
However, Belmont Abbey (11-19, 2-8 CC) started a comeback in the top of the sixth inning. The Crusaders got three consecutive singles, the third one from Jon Pilla to score their first run. Later in the inning, Quinn Hawksworth ripped a two-run double to left center to pull the Crusaders within one. Kayden Krause evened the score with a sacrifice fly before Alex Martin got a strikeout to end the inning.
It didn't take the Tornado long to answer, scoring a pair of runs on a Cieslewitz single up the middle in the seventh inning. Belmont Abbey answered with a pair of runs to even the score in the top of the eighth before Gaby struck.
The senior started the eighth inning with his second home run of the season to give King a 7-6 lead. Stephen Mullins followed with a double to left center before J.D. Wallace sacrificed him to third. Raymond reached on an error, and stole second before Cieslewitz again came up with a clutch hit, a two-run single up the middle. Smith capped the Tornado scoring with a two-run double to left field to give King an 11-6 lead going to the ninth.
Martin worked around a one-out double in the top of the ninth to close out the game and earn his third win of the season. Martin tossed three and two-thirds innings in relief of Reiss Stanley who started the contest. The duo scattered 14 Crusader hits, with Stanley allowing four runs on 10 hits while striking out five in five and one-thirds innings. Martin struck out four, allowing two on four hits.
Cieslewitz paced the Tornado offense, going 4-for-5 with five runs batted in and scoring twice. Raymond followed him going 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Four other Tornado registered two hits in the contest.
The same two teams will wrap up their three game series on Saturday with a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.