GAME ONE: Barton 4, King 5
King jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning of their opening game, taking advantage of an error by Bulldog third baseman Collins Cuthrell. After Danny Laperna walked to lead off the frame, Bryant Walker (Knoxville, Tenn.) laid down a bunt to the third base side that Curthrell threw errantly up the right field line. Laperna scored from first on the play and Walker motored all the way to third base, setting up Tyler Orndorff's RBI double to right center field to give the Tornado a 2-0 lead.
Another leadoff walk led to another King run to increase the lead to three two innings later. Orndorff received the free pass and stole a pair of bases to wind up at third. Garrett Cook (Luray, Va.) then knocked a base hit to center field, scoring Orndorff.
Barton scored three runs in their next two trips to the plate. In the fifth frame back-to-back, two-out singles from the bottom of the order plus a walk loaded the bases for Casey Rawlings. Midway through the at bat, a passed ball that skipped off Brad Blanton's glove led to two runs when the junior catcher could not locate the ball and Avery Harper and Phillip Cotton both were on their horses and scored on the play. A RBI single by Zac Crumpler in the seventh helped chip into the lead and pull within two runs of the Tornado.
The deciding frame came in response to Barton's two-run fifth when the Tornado again took advantage of another Cuthrell error at third. Hunter Smith reached base when Cuthrell botched a grounder. Danny Laperna followed with a walk before Bryant Walker put a hard bunt down between the mound and third base where nobody was found. Brad Blanton (Ashland, Ky.) took advantage and blasted a two-run double, deep to left field, at the time taking a 5-2 lead.
Sophomore Reiss Stanley (2-1) tossed five innings and surrendered just three hits in the contest, leading to two Barton runs (both unearned). He threw four scoreless frames before the Bulldog's two-run fifth. Two of his three walks came in his final inning of work.
Matt Higgins and Laperna (S, 1) combined to finish the final four innings. Laperna recorded a three-inning save, allowed three hits and run in relief.
Cody Snyder extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a 1-for-4 effort from the plate. Walker notched two hits and a run scored. Blanton led the Tornado with two ribbies while Laperna scored twice.
GAME TWO: Barton 0, King 3 (F/7)
King received a superb pitching effort from sophomore Cody Rhodes (Kissimmee, Fla.), who tossed all seven innings in a 3-0, sweep-clenching win over the Bulldogs. Rhodes (3-0) set a new career high in strikeouts with 10 against the Bulldogs, surpassing his old mark of seven. He recorded multiple strikeouts in an inning four times and never allowed a runner past second base over his seven innings of work. He allowed only three hits and walked two in the victory.
Each of the Tornado's hitters batting three through nine in the order had one hit, though Carl Roberts' double in the fifth served as the most instrumental in the win. After Doug Freeman laid down a bunt down the third base side for a single and Cody Snyder reached base on a fielder's choice, the Bluff City, Tenn., native stepped to the plate and blasted a liner to right field that cleared the bases, giving King a 2-0 advantage.
Two of Barton's three hits came from Bulldog right fielder, Ryan Daughtry, both singles in back-to-back at bats.
King (8-5, 3-0) will play one last home game against Mars Hill on Wednesday, Feb. 29, to end a four-game home stretch. First pitch time is set for 2:00 p.m. The Tornado will then turn around and begin a nine-game road stand, jumping back into Conference Carolinas play against Coker College on March 3.