March 22, 2014

Crusader offense leads to sweep of King

BRISTOL, Tenn. – On Saturday, the King University baseball team tried to take their second Conference Carolinas series when the hosted Belmont Abbey College in a doubleheader after the Tornado took game one on Friday. The Crusaders scored early in the first game en route to a 4-2 win before plating 10 runs over the final three innings of game two for the 12-2 victory.

In the top of the first inning in game one, Ian Vazquez ripped a one-out double before scoring on a Weston Clarke single. The Crusaders (13-19, 4-8 CC) took a 2-0 lead on a Kennan Stanley home that led off the second inning.

However, King (12-20, 4-5 CC) got one back in the bottom of the second inning. Garrett Cook worked a leadoff walked before stealing second and third. After an out, Justin Trent drove him in with a groundout to cut the deficit to 2-1 after two.

At that point, both starting pitchers, Cory Rhodes and Parks Smithey settled in. Neither team registered a hit in the third and fourth innings until Belmont Abbey extended their lead in the fifth inning. Anthony Dimino drove in a pair of runs with a single to center to stretch their lead to 4-1.

Cory Rogers gave King their first hit since the first inning when he led off the sixth with a single, but the Tornado couldn't score in the frame. King tried to comeback in the seventh as Tyler Raymond started the frame with a single to right. Cook later double down the left field line to put runners on second and third before J.D. Wallace drove in Raymond with a groundout. However, that was all King got as Belmont Abbey took the game 4-2.

Rhodes tossed all seven innings for King and struck out 10 while allowing four runs on six hits. Smithey also tossed a complete game for the Crusaders, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out four. Four Tornado accounted for one each with Wallace and Trent driving in both runs.

Game two went back-and-forth through the early innings. The Crusaders scored a run without a hit in the first inning to grab the early lead. Nevertheless, Tyler Gaby answered with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the frame to knot the score at one. The home run was his second of the series and third of the season.

The Tornado looked to grab the lead in the second inning, loading the bases with nobody out. However, Aaron Rumberg the Crusader pitcher buckled down. He got a shallow flyout and a groundout to cut down a run at the plate before escaping the jam with a strikeout.

Belmont Abbey regained the lead in the fourth inning on a Levi Wright home run to left center before King tried to spark a comeback.

King again loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning on a Wallace double and a pair of walks. However, Rumberg began to wiggle his way out of the jam again. He induced another groundout to cut down a run at the plate. Raymond then worked a walk to plate Wallace and tie the score at two. Rumberg then got back-to-back flyouts to escape the jam and keep the score tied.

The Crusader offense erupted in the seventh inning, scoring three runs, the first one on a sacrifice fly, and two more on a Vazquez triple to stretch the lead to 5-2. Belmont Abbey doubled their lead with three unearned runs in the eighth inning. The Crusaders capped the scoring with four runs in the ninth, three on another Wright home run to take the contest 12-2.

Gaby paced the offense, going 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot.

King will be in action again on Tuesday when they host Carson Newman University. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.