WILSON, N.C. – Erskine College jumped out early with six runs over the first two innings against the Tornado. King was unable to overcome the deficit though fought to the bitter end in a 7-3 loss to the Flying Fleet. The loss eliminates the Tornado from the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
King began the game in a hole, allowing three runs in the opening frame to the Flying Fleet. On the first ball put in play, Brandon Reed played a sharply hit grounder hit by Zac McCarthy off the backhand and it skipped off his glove into right field. McCarthy scored on the next batted ball, a double by three hitter Drew Willingham, for the first run of the game. Chase Corn placed a double down the left field line on the next at bat for another run before Logan Galliher drove home their last run of the inning with a single to left.
Erskine doubled their lead in the third inning with their second three-run trip to the plate. Erskine hit three consecutive infield singles to load the bases with no outs. Will Huff found a hole in the right side of the infield for a single, scoring one, but a miscue on the bases led to an out being given back to King with runners left at second and third. Galliher returned to the plate for his second run-scoring single of the game, plating two on the drive to left center.
Wes Houser was on lockdown from that point on, retiring the side in order the next two innings. He received a little help from the left side of his defense in the sixth inning when Galliher was pegged at the plate by a textbook relay coming in from left field. Phillip Herring painted the line in left where Tyler Gaby and Shane Timberlake combined for two perfect throws, leading to a bang-bang play at the plate. Brad Blanton's tag got Galliher on his outstretched upper arm before he touched the plate for the out. Houser struck out the final batter of the inning to calm the threat.
King cut into the lead with two runs in the sixth to put some pressure on the Fleet. Senior shortstop Shane Timberlake (Lynchburg, Va.) broke up a no-hitter pitcher Taylor Wall had through five innings of work. Timberlake's looper dropped into the green and Tyler Gaby's gapper to left center put runners on second and third with no outs. Cody Snyder (Bluff City, Tenn.) poked a grounder to short, allowing Timberlake to score on the play, getting King on the board. Josh Huffman (Lynchburg, Va.) drove a two-out, RBI single up the middle to make it a 6-2 game.
With a sacrifice fly off of the bat of Timberlake, the Tornado brought themselves within three runs, but that was the closest they would get before Kit Carter completed a two-plus inning save. King threatened again in the eight, placing runners on second and third with two outs but failed to drive home either runner. The Tornado hit into double plays in each of the final two innings and left six runners on during the game.
Houser took the loss and finishes the year with a 7-6 sophomore campaign. He allowed six runs, four earned, on 10 Erskine hits. Houser struck out four Flying Fleet batters and walked none.
Seniors David Prichard and Dustin Pannell closed their careers combining for 3.0 innings of relief work. Prichard allowed one run on two hits and struck out one. Pannell cleaned up the eighth inning with the final out.
All six hits came from different hitters in the Tornado lineup. Senior Shane Timberlake closer out his career going 1-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI.
King is now eliminated from the Conference Carolinas Tournament with the loss to Erskine and ends their season with an overall record of 28-19. They defeated Pfeiffer 9-4 in the opening round of the tournament but dropped their last two games to North Greenville (9-8) and Erskine to close their tournament stay.