BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Tyler Brake (Burlington, Ky.) clubbed in five RBIs to help Union to an 8-3 on Friday as Union split the Appalachian Athletic Conference doubleheader with visiting and No. 1-ranked Tennessee Wesleyan. The visitors rallied for a 9-6 decision in the first game.
With the split, Union is now 19-11 overall and 6-5 in the AAC. Tennessee Wesleyan is 24-9 overall and 9-2 in conference play.
The Union victory snapped a seven-game win streak Tennessee Wesleyan had against Union. The home-standing Bulldogs had not won against Tennessee Wesleyan since March 19, 2011, when Union swept a doubleheader by the scores of 8-7 in 11 innings and 4-3.
The teams will play the rubber match of the three-game set Saturday at 1 p.m.
Game 1 - Turning Point
Union appeared on its way to a win, but Tennessee Wesleyan overcame a 6-3 deficit to pull out the 9-6 win.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Union put up a five-spot to grab a 6-3 advantage. After Union scratched out a pair of runs to even the ledger, Zach Dillman (Cincinnati, Ohio) came through with a pinch-hit, two-run double to break the 3-3 tie. LaVance Anderson (Bowling Green, Ky.) followed with a run-scoring single to give Union a 6-3 edge.
However, Tennessee Wesleyan picked up RBI hits from Wes Minton and Trey Griffin in the fifth to cut the margin to 6-5. In the seventh, Tennessee Wesleyan reeled off four hits and took advantage of one walk to tally four runs, seizing a 9-6 lead. Josh McCray lined a two-run double down the left-field line as the decisive blow.
Union went down in order in the bottom of the seventh as Tennessee Wesleyan collected the three-run win.
Noah Piard tossed the final 1 2/3 innings for Tennessee Wesleyan to get the win, putting him at 1-0. He allowed no runs, hits or walks while striking out three. Justin King (Barbourville, Ky.) suffered the loss to fall to 2-3, surrendering four earned runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Miguel Mendez (Lansing, Mich.) led Union at the plate in going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI. For Tennessee Wesleyan, Travis Burnside went 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scores, and Griffin finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Game 2 - Turning Point
A three-run fourth inning propelled Union to the lead, and it never looked back en route to the 8-3 victory.
Both teams scored a run in each the second and third innings. Union broke the deadlock with a three-run outburst in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Gabby Juarbe (San Juan, P.R.) lined a shot off the leg of Tennessee Wesleyan starting pitcher Brian Bardis, and the ball shot like a bullet off his leg toward the third-base foul territory. Juarbe collected a double and two RBIs off the play as Jackson Arnett (Tompkinsville, Ky.) and Ben Hartley (Lexington, Ky.) scored on the play. Brake followed with a RBI single to give Union a 5-2 edge.
It remained a 5-2 contest until the sixth when Brake belted a three-run home run over the right-field wall to make it 8-2. Tennessee Wesleyan scored a run in the seventh, but it wasn't enough as Union posted the 8-3 decision.
Luke Collis (St. Charles, Mo.) went the distance to get his third win and third complete game of the year. He pitched out of several jams, including giving up two hits to start the game without allowing a run. Collis also picked off two runs at first and allowed three earned runs on 10 hits and one walk with five strikeouts. He is now 3-2.
Bardis took the loss, allowing five earned runs on six hits and one walk with two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Brake finished the game 3-for-3 with five RBIs, while Juarbe went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Nelson Price (Burkesville, Ky.) went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored, Arnett aslo went 2-of-3 with a RBI, and Hartley scored three runs in going 1-for-1 and being hit by a pitch twice.
Minton and Griffin each went 3-for-4 for Tennessee Wesleyan.
By the Numbers
- The four-bagger is Brake's third of the season, tying him with Juarbe and Price for the team lead.
- Brake now has 15 career home runs and 146 career RBIs.
- Union's top hitters are its two main backstops. Dillman leads the team with a .355 average with two doubles, two triples and 14 RBIs, while Juarbe is hitting .347 with five doubles, three home runs and 22 RBIs.
- Collis' complete game is the fourth for the team this season. Union had 11 in 2012.
- Head coach Bart Osborne is now one win away from his 400th career victory. His record is currently 399-163 as he is in his 10th season at Union.
Saturday's game will be Union's last home game for a while. Union will not return to Jerry W. Carey Stadium until April 9 against Georgetown (Ky.). Union is scheduled to play eight road games before then, beginning at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.