JACKSON, Tenn. - 5/6/2010 - The No. 21 Union (Tenn.) University Bulldog baseball team already had the No. 2 seed in next week’s conference tournament wrapped up, but closing the season strong against Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University would help solidify a national tournament at-large bid. After a rocky start, Union rallied to top Freed-Hardeman 7-6 in game one and then never trailed in a 5-2 win in the second game of the double-header.
Union improved to 36-13 on the season and 13-5 in the TranSouth. Freed-Hardeman dropped to 33-21 overall and 9-11 in league play.
The Lions of FHU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first on a two-out, two-RBI single from Evan Mansell. Union left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first without scratching a run across to cut into the deficit. In the third, FHU tacked on two more runs to lead 4-0. The Bulldogs started a rally with two outs and nobody on base in the fourth when Alex Turner walked. After a Kevin Kirksey single, Clint Barnes sent a flare to shallow right center to drive in Union’s first run. Danny Grimm followed with a single to drive in Union’s second run, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Grant Luke then slapped a grounder to second base that should have ended the inning, but a wild throw extended the inning, allowing the third run to score.
After a pitching change brought Trae Luttrell into the game for FHU, Corey Rudolph put Union up for the first time with a long three-run home run. Union had six straight batters to reach base in the inning with all six scoring to lead 6-4.
Freed-Hardeman scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, including one on a balk in the sixth to tie the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Union got the bases loaded with no outs, but a fielder’s choice back to the pitcher forcing the out at home, followed by a double play to end the inning stopped Union’s rally.
Harken (8-2), who earned the win in relief, tossed the final three innings including five strikeouts. He quickly disposed of FHU in the top of the seventh to give his offense a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh. Josh Jones started the inning with a double. Following a David Maristany single that moved the courtesy runner Dustin Phelps to third, Turner recorded the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Union was led by Rudolph with two hits and three RBI. Barnes also added two hits and one RBI. Derek Copley started for Union, and was relieved in the third by Brad Davis.
The second game was scoreless until Union scored in the third to lead 1-0. After FHU tied the game in the fourth, Union scored two in the fourth and two more in the fifth to lead 5-1. Jones hit his team-high 11th home run in the game on a 420 foot opposite field smash. A late run by FHU set the final at 5-2.
Union’s Jeremy Stack earned the win in his first start since suffering an injury at Martin Methodist (Tenn.) on April 2. Stack (4-3) went six innings, allowing one run on six hits with six strikeouts. Kirksey tossed the seventh inning, allowing one run on one hit with one strikeout. Grimm and Maristany led with two hits while Jones led with two RBI.
The same two teams will close out the regular season on Friday, May 6 at 4:00 p.m. at Union’s Fesmire Field. The TranSouth Tournament starts on Monday, May 10 at Brooks Stadium in Paducah, Ky.
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