Houser Helps Tornado Take Series with Strong Outing
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Wes Houser went eight complete innings in his first win of the season, leading King to a 5-4 victory over the North Georgia Saints on Sunday afternoon. Jose Sola had a day from the plate and on the mound, going 3-for-5 and ending the game with a strikeout. King is now 4-2 on the season after winnings its first two series of the 2013 campaign.
King (4-2) struck early by capitalizing on a throwing error that put leadoff hitter Jose Sola (Aguadilla, Puerto Rico)) on base. After Sola was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, Stephen Mullins (Bluff City, Tenn./Tennessee H.S.) doubled him home by placing a shot into the right center field gap.
North Georgia (1-5) tied up the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with a run-scoring double. It was King starting pitcher Wesley Houser's lone blemish through his first eight innings of work as the senior right-hander 10 of the next 11 batters he faced thereafter.
Houser (1-1) forced a double play ball and went 1-2-3 to get through his opening two innings before working through his first jam of the game. After walking the leadoff man and allowing a single, he forced nine-hitter Jake McCurry to ground the ball back to the mound where he retired the leadoff man at third. He then forced Jesse Strickland to ground to short where Cody Snyder got the sure out at second before ending the inning with a fly out to center.
The Tornado scored three runs to take a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth when Landon Weitekamp (Farmersville, Ill.) cleared the bases with a double to the left center field gap. Mullins led the inning off with a walk before senior catcher Josh Huffman (Lynchburg, Va.) painted the left field line for a double to place runners at second and third. With an intentional walk to Garrett Cook, it set the table for Weitekamp's three-RBI extra base hit.
King plated an insurance run in the top of the seventh that proved to be the eventual game-winner. Jose Sola led the inning off with a double to deep right field and was driven home by Cody Snyder's single to right field, giving King a 5-1 lead heading into the eighth.
Houser continued to pitch strong, retiring the side with a 5-4-3 double play ball. He started the ninth inning to go for the complete game but surrendered a two-run home run to cut the gap to two runs. Landon Weitekamp came on in relief but left with one out and runners on first and second for Sola to come in and shut down the Saints' rally.
Sola walked his first batter to load the bases and made Eason Spivey ground out to third, scoring one run and leaving first and second occupied. Sola continued to battle and with nine-hitter Jake McCurry up to plate. McCurry went down 0-2 before fouling off two additional pitches. Sola finished the job and got McCurry swinging on a 1-2 pitch to seal the win and earn his first save as a Tornado.
Houser went eight complete innings and faced two batters in the ninth en route to his first win of the season in two starts. He allowed seven hits and three runs, all earned, while striking out three Saints hitters.
In addition to earning the save, Sola went 3-for-5 at the plate and scored two runs to lead the Tornado offensively. Cody Snyder followed with a pair of hits in four at bats and a RBI. Landon Weitekamp notched three runs batter in with one swing of the bat.
King will play in its home opener on Wednesday, Feb. 13, against Mars Hill College at the KU Baseball Complex. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. It begins a stretch of five straight home games that goes through the weekend. All five games are non-conference and include two-game sets with Ohio Dominican (Feb. 15) and Glenville State (Feb.16-17).