Union (Tenn.) Chills Out WLU Baseball
JACKSON, Tenn. – The West Liberty University baseball team saw Union (Tenn.) mount a couple of late-inning rallies here Saturday to sweep an early-season twinbill at cold and blustery Fesmire Field by scores of 8-6 and 5-2.
Only 24 hours after the series-opening doubleheader was played on a sunny Friday afternoon with temperatures in the mid-60s, the mercury never got above 35 on Saturday with wind chills in the 20s.
In the scheduled 9-inning opener, the Bulldogs (4-3) broke up a 2-2 tie with three-run uprisings in the sixth and seventh frames. The Hilltoppers (0-4) scored four of their six runs in their final three at-bats but it was too little, too late.
Justin Studd pitched well in his first start at WLU, holding Union to two runs on just two hits through the first five innings before running out of gas in the sixth.
At the plate, Ty Helmke was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle as he stroked out a single, double, and triple to chase in one run while scoring another to pace the West Liberty attack. Connor Ferguson had an RBI single, Brad Goodyear singled and drove in a run and Kaden Blomquist doubled.
Justin Pennybacker took the hard-luck loss in the 7-inning nightcap. Holding the hosts to just two hits over the first five innings, the veteran righthander took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth only to see things fall apart for the Black and Gold.
Three hits, three West Liberty errors and a wild pitch resulted in a 4-run sixth inning for Union. The Hilltoppers still managed to get the potential winning run to the plate with two out in the seventh when Bulldog reliever Jake Jewell walked the bases loaded but Jewell fanned the next batter to end the game.
West Liberty managed just three singles in the arctic conditions. Connor Ferguson singled home WLU's first run in the top of the fourth. Ross Salvatori put the visitors on top in the fifth when he stole third and came around to score when the throw sailed into the outfield.
The Hilltoppers don't return to action until Feb. 23-24 when they head to Mason, Ohio for a four-game set against Malone.
Union (Tenn.) 8, West Liberty 6
West Liberty 002 000 112 - 6 8 4
Union (Tenn.) 110 003 30x - 8 8 3
WLU: Studd lp (5SO, 2W), Hurst (7) (0SO, 0W), Clark (8) (0SO, 2W) and Rine. Helmke T, D, S, rbi; Blomquist D; Ferguson S, rbi; Goodyear S, rbi; R.Salvatori rbi
UU: Williamson wp (10SO, 4W), Rasmussen (6) (2SO, 5W), Middleton (8) (1SO, 1W) and Cutrell. Berry 2D; Netterville HR, rbi; Bozoian D, S, 2rbi; Beckham D, rbi
Union (Tenn.) 5, West Liberty 2
West Liberty 000 110 0 - 2 3 3
Union (Tenn.) 100 004 x - 5 5 1
WLU: Pennybacker lp (4SO, 5W), Aulick (6) (0SO, 1W) and Goodyear. Ferguson S, rbi
UU: Zeak (3SO, 4W), Jewell wp (6) (4SO, 4W) and Smith. Swanson 2S, rbi; Schield S, rbi