Houser Takes Tornado the Distance in Sweep of St. Andrews
BRISTOL, Tenn. – A five-run fifth inning propelled the Tornado toward their 10th straight win at home this season and a sweep of St. Andrews Presbyterian College after an 8-4 win on Sunday afternoon at the King College Baseball Complex. Wesley Houser threw a complete game in his fourth win of the season while Stephen Mullins went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate to lead King College.
Junior Wesley Houser went all nine innings in the win and excelled in the second half of his outing. After allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits through four innings of work, the Knoxville, Tenn., native allowed only two base hits and kept the Black Knights off of the board for the duration of the game. Houser (4-2) allowed two base runners from the sixth inning on, recording two of his three strikeouts in the process. He retired the side in order in both the seventh and eighth innings and only allowed one hit to leave the infield in his last three frames of work.
King jumped out to a 2-0 lead after posting a single run in each of their first two at bats. Tyler Gaby (Bristol, Tenn.) led the game off with a gapper to right center and sped his way around the bases. He scored on Cody Snyder's ground out to the right side on the next King batter. King led the second inning off with another extra-base hit when Stephen Mullins (Bluff City, Tenn.) recorded his first of four base knocks by legging out a double to left. After advancing to third on a passed ball, senior Bryant Walker (Knoxville, Tenn.) put down an excellently placed safety squeeze to the right side of the infield, deep enough to score Mullins.
St. Andrews posted back-to-back two-run innings in the third and fourth innings to take a 4-2 lead. In the third, Tyler Jordan put up a sacrifice fly on a liner to right field, scoring Tyler Nolan who led the frame off with a double down the left field line. After a failed pickoff attempt that sent Jake Anderson to second, Ty Bostick singled through the middle tie the game at two. In the following inning, the Black Knights led the inning off with two consecutive singles through the right side to put runners on first and second. After both runners moved up a base following a softly hit infield putout, Anderson struck again with a third single through the right side, just out of the reach of Cody Snyder at second, to give St. Andrews a 4-2 lead.
King (17-9, 8-4) scored six unanswered runs over the fifth and sixth innings, including a five-run fifth frame. Shane Timberlake (Lynchburg, Va.) led the inning off with a solid single to left and was followed similarly by Tyler Gaby. Snyder put down a bunt to advance both runners, but pitcher Joe McCarty (1-1) threw the ball away when trying to get the lead runner at third, allowing Timberlake to score. Carl Roberts tied the game when he hit a ground out to second well enough to score Gaby from third. Josh Huffman (Lynchburg, Va.) followed with a sac fly to left, scoring Snyder and giving King a 5-4 lead.
King then found a rhythm and hit three straight doubles from the 5-6-7 portion of the lineup. Mullins kept the ball rolling in the inning with a two-out double that painted the left field line and was driven home by Brad Blanton (Ashland, Ky.) with a deep blast over center fielder Mason Beane's head. Bryant Walker capped off the trio of two baggers, finding the left center field gap to score Blanton and give the Tornado a 7-4 lead.
Cody Snyder (Bluff City, Tenn.) put up King's sixth and final extra-base hit of the game, splitting the left and center fielders and later scored following a passed ball and wild pitch from reliever Travis Holland. Wesley Houser needed no more helped and guided the Tornado to final out and their tenth win at home to stay undefeated at the King College Baseball Complex this season.
Mullins went a perfect 4-for-4 from the plate, scoring twice in the game. Tyler Gaby joined him as the only other Tornado to record multiple hits, posting two in five at bats and extending his current hit streak to six games. Seven of the nine King starters posted at least one hit.
King, now 17-9 overall and 8-4 in Conference Carolinas, now rides a five-game winning streak with consecutive sweeps of Lincoln Memorial University and St. Andrews. They will host Brevard College on March 21 at 3:00 p.m. in an effort to continue their 11-game home win streak, dating back to last year's NCCAA Mid-East Region final win against Covenant.