Mars Hill rallies in ninth for 6-4 winFebruary 21, 2016
BREVARD, N.C. – Mars Hill rallied from a 4-3 deficit with three runs in the ninth inning off Josh Hall to claim a 6-4 victory, spoiling a gritty performance by the Tornados to take the rubber game of a three-game series.
The Tornados (5-7) would not have been in the lead in the ninth inning were it not for Hall’s work at the plate. Lions’ (11-3) starter Tom Mastrodonato stymied the Tornados through the first five innings, allowing no runs on three hits before Ryan Smith’s one-out single in the sixth. A full-count single by Kyle Morrison put runners on the corners for Hall.
Hall had flown out to center and been the beneficiary of a fielding error in his first two trips to the plate. He lifted the second pitch he saw into left field, and the ball carried just over the fence for Hall’s second home run of the season to knot the game at three.
The Tornados took the lead one inning later. Quinn led off the seventh with a single, then advanced to second when a one-out fly ball by Matthew Proffitt was dropped by a charging Rayshelon Carolina in right center. Both runners moved up 90 feet when new pitcher Drayden Williams’ pickoff attempt of Quinn at second sailed into center.
Smith then gave the Tornados the lead for the first time in the contest with a sacrifice fly to right field, fighting off a 1-2 pitch down and away for his team-leading 12th RBI of the season.
Carolina made sure the Tornados’ lead was short-lived. The speedy center fielder was a tough out all afternoon. Although he was twice erased trying to steal second, Carolina went 4-for-5, with his leadoff home run on the fourth pitch of the game serving as a precursor for what was to come.
The Lions began the ninth with an infield single, a sacrifice bunt, a stolen base, and a hit batsman to put runners on the corners with one out. Second baseman Lance Edwards tied the game on an RBI single to center. Carolina then ripped the first pitch he saw into the gap in right center for a two-run triple, delivering the lead back to Mars Hill.
Carolina’s late-game heroics nullified an impressive outing for Tyler Konzen, who was pulled from the game after throwing 112 pitches in eight innings. Although he surrendered nine hits, Konzen did a tremendous job of damage control in allowing just three runs. He gave up solo home runs in the first and fourth, but limited the Lions to just one run in each inning.
Konzen also pitched out of a jam after consecutive singles and a sacrifice bunt placed two Lions in scoring position with one out in the fifth. Carolina hit a single to right that was not deep enough to score the runner from second and was promptly caught stealing by Kody Spencer. Konzen induced a full-count flyout to end the inning and strand a runner at third.
In addition to throwing out Carolina twice on stolen base attempts, Spencer also had the most prolific offensive afternoon for the Tornados with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. Kyle Morrison had a pair of hits and a run scored, while Hall’s three RBI led the team after his sixth-inning homer.
The Tornados are back in action Wednesday at Limestone before opening South Atlantic Conference play with a three-game series in Brevard against Coker.