March 4, 2014

Cieslewitz hits for the cycle to propel King over Mars Hill

MARS HILL, N.C. – Coming off its first series sweep of the season, the King University baseball team continued riding its wave of momentum with a 14-1 dismantling of Mars Hill University in a road nonconference matchup on Tuesday. King's Geoff Cieslewitz hit for the cycle to highlight a 19-hit attack for the Tornado on the afternoon.

Cieslewitz went 4-for-5 at the plate with four runs batted in and a run scored. After Mars Hill (7-12) stranded two runners in the first inning, Cieslewitz wasted no time in shifting the momentum to the Tornado (6-13-1). With two men on and two outs, he strode to the plate and promptly smacked a triple that gave King a 2-0 lead. He added a sharp double down the left field line in the fourth inning.

The Tornado broke the game open with a five-run seventh inning that was capped by a Cieslewitz two-run homer that cleared the right field fence. In his final plate appearance of the day, he hit an infield single to second base to complete the cycle.

King had several other players with exemplary days at the dish. J.D. Wallace went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, raising his conference-leading batting average to .481. Wallace currently has the 18th-highest batting among NCAA Division II players. Garrett Cook counted his fifth home run of the season among his two hits in four plate appearances on the afternoon, scoring three runs and driving in two. Tyler Raymond hit a pair of doubles, scoring two runs and knocking in three. Carl Roberts had three hits and a run driven in from his designated hitter position.

Despite the lopsided final score, the game was close until the late innings. King led 2-0 after Cieslewitz's home run, but Mars Hill cut the lead in half in the third inning on an Evan Rogers home run to left center. Cook's solo home run in the fourth made the score 3-1, then an RBI infield single by Roberts an inning later plated Stephen Mullins to add another run to the Tornado lead.

Neither team would score again until the Tornado exploded for five runs in the seventh on four consecutive two-out base hits, with the biggest blow coming on Cieslewitz's two-run home run. King scored another five runs in the eighth inning, this time using a two-run double by Raymond to inflict the most damage. All told, the Tornado finished with 19 hits on the day against six Lions pitchers, none of whom lasted longer than three innings.

Freshman right-hander Mitch Stophel earned his first career win for the Tornado, throwing for six solid innings. He scattered six hits while only allowing a single run, striking out four batters and issuing a pair of walks. Ryan Nichols and Alex Gonzalez combined to allow two hits over the final three innings.

The Tornado will attempt to sustain their momentum and win their fourth game in five contests on Friday afternoon as King hosts Pfeiffer University in both teams' Conference Carolinas opener. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The teams will then conclude their series with a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon that will begin at noon.