DUE WEST, S.C. – A rally in the ninth inning when down by three runs fell short in a 4-2 loss to Erskine College on Saturday afternoon. King put one on the board and had the winning run at the plate in the ninth but could not make the comeback a reality. Erskine completed the sweep of King, who fall to 8-7 in conference play with the loss.
Down 4-1 going into their final at bat, King's Stephen Mullins (Bluff City, Tenn.) led the inning off with a single to right field, prompting a pitching change for the Flying Fleet. Josh Huffman (Lynchburg, Va.) paid no mind and followed with a single to center to put runners at first and second for sophomore Carl Roberts. Erskine brought in their third pitcher of the inning to calm the Tornado, but the Blountville, Tenn., native had other plans, knocking a single up the middle to plate Mullins and bring King within a pair and put the winning run at the plate in the form of Bryant Walker.
Erskine pitcher Kit Carter kicked it into gear at that point, forcing Walker to ground into a 5-4 fielder's choice for the first out of the inning. Brad Blanton and Hunter Smith followed but both struck out swinging to end the game, 4-2.
The Fleet scored the first four runs of the game, scoring two in both the fourth and sixth innings. Zac McCarthy led the fourth inning off with a solo home run before Drew Willingham doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Chase Corn drove him home with a ground out to the right side to put Erskine up 2-0.
The Fleet plated two more in the sixth via three singles to start the sixth inning and a sacrifice fly. Corn recorded his second RBI of the day on his only hit, driving home the first of two runs in the frame.
Aside from the two run-scoring innings, Wesley Houser (Knoxville, Tenn.) held down the Fleet lineup retiring the side in order on two different occasions and had not been for a hit batsman in the seventh inning, would have been three. Houser (4-3) struck out two opposing batters, one in his first and last innings of work. He took the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits through seven innings on the mound.
Erskine starter Taylor Wall (3-3) earned the win, limiting King to eight hits and striking out seven.
King (18-12, 8-7) will play at Brevard College on Wednesday, March 28, before beginning an eight-game homestand on March 31 against Limestone College.