Buffs outlast Tornado

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Staff
rpierson@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY -- The Appalachian Athletic Conference Baseball Championship began Tuesday at Cardinal Park. The Milligan Buffaloes entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and defeated the No. 6 seed King College, 7-5. Although the Buffs were not on their home field, they did have the home crowd behind them.
   The Buffaloes, (33-20 overall), got off to a slow start against Tornado pitcher Dirk Kleinmann, who had three perfect innings out of eight.
   "We had a good rally, but the game was very stale the first four or five innings," said Buffs head coach Danny Clark. "When we came out, I thought we were flat. Kleinmann pitched a good game for them early, and that was part of the reason.
   "I don't know if it was because of exams -- we had some this morning and we are going back to take more exams," he said. "I don't know if that is part of it but I thought we were awfully flat early."
   King's Chris Martin opened up the top of the second with single, followed by John Patterson, who bounced it to second for another single. Patrick McKlveen attempted to load the bases with a bunt, but was caught out on first.
   Danny Holloway then hit a long drive out to left field, slides into first safe and allows Martin and courtesy runner Jamie Somerville to run in and bring the score 2-0.
   Buff pitcher Chad Davis the struck out Daniel Ott, then walked Andrew Belcher. Then, Aaron Porter struck out to close the inning.
   The next four innings would be scoreless until the top of the seventh when Buff pitcher Chris Shockley walked Ott, then Belcher hit a line drive between first and second, placing Ott on third. Aaron Porter then bounced one over Shockley's head for one RBI.
   David Roberts then struck out. Kleinmann then hit a drive to second, where the Buffs' first baseman, Brian Miller, and second baseman, Nathan Meade, pulled out a double to stop the Tornado drive.
   Milligan would then have their third hit of the afternoon and the lone home run of the game from David Rusaw in the eighth. His home run kept another perfect inning from taking place.
   King came back with two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, but the Buffs took back the lead in the ninth. Nick Hensley came in to pitch for Kleinmann, but the relief opened the door for Milligan.
   Miller opened the inning with a walk. Then Jacob McAllister hit a double for an RBI when he hit a perfect line drive down centerfield.
   McAllister then stole third before Ben Huff was walked. Chandler then hit a double for an RBI. Brad Hitch then bunted to load the bases. Kory Kinnear then hits a sacrifice for an RBI. Meade sacrifices another hit for an RBI to tie up the game 5-5.
   The Tornado tried to get ahead in the ninth with one hit by Kleinmann, but the Buffs would earn two more runs in the top of the tenth innings to give them a two-run lead.
   Milligan changed out Shockley for Nathan Chandler in the top of the 10th, but King couldn't get a hit, and the Buffaloes won the first round of the tournament.
   "I thought Shockley did well," Clark said. "He came in after the first inning and pitched eight innings of basically one-hit ball. He was the key to keeping us in the game because we never did anything offensively. Then Nathan Chandler came in there at the end and closed it in for us, but they are supposed to do those things."
   "If we could've had one more innings we would have won," said King College head coach Craig Kleinmann. "The ninth inning killed us. We just couldn't finish. I think we are cursed. This always happens to us."
   Milligan will face the No. 7 seed Bluefield today at Cardinal Park at 4 p.m. Clark said that he will use Jacob McAllister at the mound.