BRISTOL, Tenn. – In the series finale, the King University baseball team was locked in a pitcher's duel with the University of Mount Olive on Monday afternoon. The Tornado broke through to take a lead in the seventh inning, but the Trojans responded with seven runs in the eighth inning to take the contest 8-2.
Jay Gonzalez sparked the Trojan offense with a leadoff single to start the game in the top of the first inning. He then stole second and reached third when the throw sailed into center field. Gonzalez later scored on a one-out sacrifice fly to give Mount Olive (24-11, 10-2 CC) the early 1-0 lead.
Both pitchers settled in at that point, King's Alexander Gonzalez only allowed one hit and three base runners over the next five innings, and Mount Olive's Gunner Kines matched him pitch-for-pitch. However, Kines had to deal with more traffic on the base paths, stranding one in the third and two in the second before working around a pair of Tornado hits in the fifth inning.
The King offense finally broke through in the seventh inning when Garrett Cook ignited the offense with a leadoff single to force a Trojan pitching change. Tyler Gaby and Mullins followed with consecutive walks to load the bases with no outs. After another Mount Olive pitching change, Raymond ripped a single down the left field line to score two and give King a 2-1 lead. However, the Trojans escaped further damage, getting out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
The Tornado lead was short lived however, and Gonzalez sparked the Trojan offense again in the eighth inning with a leadoff single. He later scored on a Bradon Reitano single to even the score at 2-2. Reitano then stole second before an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. It appeared as though Gonzalez would escape the jam as he induced a pop out for the second out of the frame. Nevertheless, Justin Manning ripped a double to right field that cleared the bases, giving Mount Olive a 5-2 lead. The Trojans added three more runs in the frame to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
King was unable to muster any offense over the final two innings as they fell to Mount Olive 8-2. Gonzalez tossed eight innings and struck out nine on 134 pitches. He allowed eight runs, seven earned on nine hits. His counterpart, Kines threw 102 pitches in six innings of work while allowing one run on seven hits.
Offensively, the Tornado were led by Mullins and Raymond. Mullins went 4-for-4 with a walk while Raymond went 4-for-5 and drove in both of King's runs.
King will be in action again on Tuesday when they host Lenoir-Rhyne University at 3:00 p.m.