Tigerville, S.C.—The NGU Baseball Team opened Conference Carolinas play on Friday, splitting a double header with the King University Tornado. The Crusaders dropped a 14-3 decision in game one, but rebounded with a 5-2 win over the Tornado in game two.
Both teams went down in order in the first inning, but King would get the offense started in the second. A two run homer from Ryan Witt would give King an early 2-0 lead. The Tornado would tack on five more runs in the third inning to take a 7-0 lead over NGU. King would cushion its lead in the fourth inning with two more runs to take a 9-0 lead.
The Crusaders were kept off balance at the plate in game one, as King starter Heath Loyd turned in a solid six-inning performance. Loyd struck out five while allowing three runs on eight hits. North Greenville scored its first run of the game in the fourth inning, as a John Leopard double scored Taylor McCuen.
The Crusaders would pull closer in the sixth inning, as two more runs scored on three hits. Jake Smith's two out single would cash in Jae Roberts and Leopard to cut the lead to 10-3. King would scratch across four more runs in the eight innings to extend its lead to 14-3 though, as NGU failed to score in the final two innings.
John Leopard led the way in game one with a 2-3 performance with an RBI and a run scored. Allen Staton was 2-5, while Jake Smith was 1-3 with two RBI. Ryne Frankoff took the loss in game one as the starter giving up six earned runs on six hits in two innings. Andrew Phemister got the save for King.
The Crusaders knocked off the rust in game two after going five days without a game. Starter Hunter Dilworth shut down the Tornado in the first inning, and NGU's offense got the game started early, springing for two runs on three hits. Allen Staton got the game started with a single and a stolen base, and would score on a Wheeler Smith double to give NGU a 1-0 lead. Smith would later score on a Tony Davila single to give NGU the 2-0 lead.
North Greenville would pile on three more runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Taylor McCuen would pick an RBI with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Jake Smith. Josh Leopard would come up big for NGU once again with a double down the left field line that scored Wheeler Smith and Allen Staton. NGU would strand two in the inning but the five run cushion would be Hunter Dilworth needed.
Dilworth put together a complete seven-inning performance in game two, allowing just two hits through six innings while striking out six. King's only damage of the game came in the top of the seventh inning when the Tornado struck for two runs on three hits.
Allen Staton and Wheeler Smith led the offensive charge in game two, as the one and two hitters for the Crusaders posted 2-4 days with two runs scored. Smith accounted for one of NGU's RBI. John Leopard led all players with two RBI while going 1-3. Tony Davila also had an RBI and was 1-2 in game two.
North Greenville is now 5-6 on the season and 1-1 in Conference Carolinas play. The rubber game of the NGU vs. King series is scheduled for 12pm Saturday afternoon in Tigerville.