March 1, 2014

King earns split with Slippery Rock

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Playing in the first two games of a three-game set with Slippery Rock University on Saturday afternoon, the King University baseball team won the first contest by a score of 7-3 before falling in Game 2 7-4.

Reiss Stanley picked up his first win of the season for the Tornado (4-13-1) in the early game, scattering nine hits across six innings and allowing just two runs, only one of which was earned. Stanley quickly worked into and out of trouble in the first inning to set the tone for the game. An infield single and a walk put two men on with nobody out, but the runners were only able to move up one base on a deep single to left field after waiting to see if they would need to tag. With the bases loaded and no outs, Stanley struck out Kyle Vozar, got a ground ball to third base to nab the runner coming home, and induced a popup on the infield to strand three runners.

After a two-out RBI double by Joe Ganger to give King the lead, Slippery Rock used a hit batsman, a single, and an error to score an unearned run to even the score. But King wasted no time regaining control, as a two-out walk, a Justin Trent RBI triple to left-center, and a wild pitch gave the Tornado a 3-1 lead. Trent went 3-for-4 at the plate in the first game, scoring three of King's seven runs.

With a two-run lead, Stanley retired Slippery Rock (4-2) in order in the fourth inning, then again minimized damage an inning later by stranding two runners in scoring position. King delivered the exclamation point with a four-run sixth inning that included a Ganger RBI double, a Gaby RBI single, and two run-scoring wild pitches.

Slippery Rock attempted to come back in the ninth inning, but a five-run deficit entering the inning proved too difficult to overcome. After a two-out single and a walk, an RBI single up the middle by Alex Bell pulled Slippery Rock within four runs. An infield single loaded the bases, but Alex Martin froze Jake Weibley for a called third strike to end the game and bring Slippery Rock's total of stranded runners to 13.

Slippery Rock had a total of 12 hits in the game but were unable to push runs across the plate. Shortstop Will Kengor went 3-for-5 at the plate with a run scored. Urbania was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Kyle Vozar and Kevin Jovanovich also had multi-hit days. Trent and Ganger each finished with three hits for the Tornado, combining for three runs batted in and four runs scored.

In the second game, however, it was the Tornado who struggled to push runners across the plate. King rode its momentum to a first-inning run on an RBI double by J.D. Wallace. But a strikeout to end the inning would deliver the momentum back to Slippery Rock, who scored three unearned runs in the top of the second inning after a two-out error allowed Kengor to smack a three-RBI double to right-center.

Garret Peterson would then settle in and continually stymie King batters. He finished with nine strikeouts, including four straight called third strikes. He also struck out five out of six batters in one stretch from the first through third innings. When he exited the game after the fourth inning, Peterson had allowed two runs on four hits. Nine of the final 10 outs he recorded came via the strikeout.

King fell behind 7-2 after a four-run fifth inning for Slippery Rock, but used a two-out walk and a booming home run to right field off the bat of Carl Roberts to trim the deficit to three runs. The Tornado were able to put runners on the corners in the seventh and final inning with two outs, but a strikeout from John Kovalik, who earned his second save of the season, ended the game and gave Slippery Rock a split in the twinbill.

The two teams will play the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.