BRISTOL, Tenn. – King first baseman Carl Roberts was one of the many Tornado players that racked up offensive stats, compiling 17 runs in a pair of wins over Salem International University on Saturday afternoon. King took both games of the twin bill, 7-0 and 10-2, to earn a series sweep of the Tigers and improve to 4-5 on the young season.
GAME ONE: SALEM INT'L 0, KING 7
Junior Wesley Houser (Knoxville, Tenn.) breezed through the Tiger lineup, tossing seven innings of shutout ball. He struck out a season-high seven hitters and did not allow a runner reach second base until the sixth inning. He cruised through the first two innings, retiring six straight Tiger hitters, and did not allow a base hit until the fourth before the King defense turned a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side. In his last three innings of work Houser struck out four batters, two in the fifth and seventh innings.
Houser (1-1) received plenty of run support from his teammates, beginning with Carl Roberts' two-run blast over the right field fence to score Cody Snyder and give King a 2-0 lead. The homer was Roberts' first of the season and the second of his three hits in game one.
The Tornado doubled their lead in the fourth when senior Bryant Walker (Knoxville, Tenn.) singled home Danny Laperna, who led the inning off with a triple off a moon shot to center field. Walker was brought home when he scored from third on a bunt put down by senior shortstop Shane Timberlake.
After tagging on their fifth run via a SIU error in the seventh, King added two more runs in the eighth. Brad Blanton (Ashland, Ky.) hit a solo no-doubter over the left field fence, his first of the season. Heath Williams (Bristol, Va.) notched a RBI single through the left side, scoring Timberlake after he reached base on two-base fielding error to drive the score to 7-0.
Danny Laperna made the move from third base to the mound in the eighth and closed the door on game one, serving up two shutout innings of relief work. The Lake Worth, Fla. native struck out two and allowed one hit in his relief outing. Roberts led the Tornado with three hits, two RBI, and a run scored.
GAME TWO: SALEM INT'L 2, KING 10
Both offenses got active early in the series finale, pushing a combined eight runs across the plate in the first two frames. After the Tigers scored one in each of the first two innings, Cory Rhodes (Kissimmee, Fla.) settled down and gave four strong innings of work to earn his second win of the season.
Rhodes allowed a RBI single to Tiger second baseman Nicholas Arena in consecutive innings to account for both SIU runs. Michael Holbert reached base ahead of Arena via a single in each case and scored on a follow up base hit by Arena.
The King offense backed their sophomore starting pitcher up with three runs in the first inning, highlighted with Hunter Smith's first home run of the year. The Bristol, Tenn. native hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left-center field fence.
After taking a 3-1 lead and Salem drawing within a run after their at bat, sophomore Cody Snyder (Bluff City, Tenn.) continued his hot hitting with a RBI single, driving home Heath Williams from third. Snyder came around to score, taking second on the throw home following his hit, on a run-scoring single to right field by Roberts. After two innings, King held a 5-2 lead to support Rhodes on the hill.
Rhodes (2-0) benefitting from a 6-4-3 double play turn in the third, the second of the doubleheader for the Tornado, and retired the side in order in the fourth inning before turning the ball over to the bullpen. The trio of Nick Melcher, David Pritchard, and Dustin Pannell combined for three scoreless innings of relief and did not allow a hit in their time. Pannell struck out the side in the seventh to end the game, 10-2.
Five different King hitters notched two hits in the nightcap of the doubleheader including Snyder, Roberts, Smith and freshman Stephen Mullins (Bluff City, Tenn.). Mullins went 2-for-4 with two RBI, working both sides of the outfield green in his last two plate appearances in the fifth and sixth innings.
Carl Roberts finished the day going 5-for-7 (.714) from the plate with a pair of doubles, a home run, and four RBI. Heath Williams stole three bases on as many attempts on the day. Cody Snyder extended his current hitting streak to nine games, which started on the season opener at Georgia College on Feb. 3.
With the sweep, King improves to 4-5 on the season and will play a pair of non-conference contests during the week before opening their Conference Carolinas slate against Barton College on Saturday, Feb. 25.