BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Several players came through for Union in the Appalachian Athletic Conference doubleheader sweep of visiting Bryan (Tenn.), but none shined brighter than Justin Elder (JR/Seven Mile, Ohio) as the Bulldogs won 6-5 and 3-1 on Friday.
The wins up Union's mark to 31-15 overall and 15-8 in the AAC. Bryan falls to 26-22 overall and 12-11 in league play.
Elder, who batted lead off, was big offensively and even bigger defensively. He batted 4-of-7 with three runs scored and three RBIs. He also belted his first home run of the year.
In the second game, Elder made two key defensive plays to keep Bryan off the scoreboard. Down 2-1 in the fourth, Grant Zawadzki led off with a double and advanced to third on a sac bunt. Crandon Wallace lined what looked to be a run-scoring hit, but Elder made a diving grab. Since it appeared to be a hit, Zawadzki was frozen at third as he did not tag up.
Still 2-1 in the sixth, Bryan had runners on first and second with one out when Wallace roped a single to second. Trying to even the ledger, Zawadzki attempted to score from second, but Elder's throw was there in plenty of time and catcher John Wilson (JR/Manchester, Ky.) easily made the tag.
Elder followed up the defensive heroics with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth to give Union a 3-1 edge. Luke Collis (SR/St. Charles, Mo.) slammed the door shut in the seventh by getting the Lions out in order to lock up the two-run decision.
The win improved Collis' mark to 8-1 as he tossed his sixth complete game of the season. He allowed one earned run on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Elder went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI. Miguel Mendez (SR/Lansing, Mich.) also went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Lion starter Chad Burrows pitched well in the loss, going the distance and allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Zawadzki went 3-for-3 with a run scored, while Cody Rhinehart finished 2-of-2. The duo combined for five of Bryan's seven hits in the game.
Game One - Union 6, Bryan 5
It's not every day the winning pitcher also collects the game-winning RBI, but that's what happened as Jared Tomany (SR/Bryant, Wis.) accomplished both feats in the 6-5, walk-off victory.
Down 5-4 in the top of the seventh, Preston King lined a triple to deep right-center field and scored on Zawadzki single to even things up at 5-5. Bryan got another runner on thanks to a walk, but the threat ended with a flyout to center.
Wilson led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and pinch-runner Corey Corum (FR/Manchester, Ky.) preceded to steal second. With one out, Tomany roped a single down the left-field line to drive in Corum for the game-winning run.
Tomany picked up the win to improve to 2-1, allowing one run on four hits and a walk. He also went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Elder batted 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Elder blasted his first home run of season, a two-run shot, in the second to put Union up 5-3.
Rhinehardt went 1-for-4 for the Lions but drove in three RBIs with a bases-clearing double in the top of the first.
Union and Bryan will complete the three-game, AAC series on Saturday with a single, nine-inning game. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. It is also senior day for the Bulldogs.