HARDEEVILLE, S.C. - 5/10/2012 - The Union University baseball team remained unbeaten in the 2012 NAIA Baseball National Championships Opening Round with a 3-1 victory over top-seed Faulkner (Ala.) University. Union, seeded fourth in the 5-team bracket, earned their second win of the day after opening the day with a 7-1 win over Asbury (Ky.) University.
The win for Union (39-17-1) was the ninth straight win for the Bulldogs dating back to the last weekend of the regular season. Union has now won 21 of their last 25 games. Faulkner (48-12), who is ranked No. 5 in the latest NAIA poll, lost for just the 12th time this season.
Union senior and former Bolivar (Tenn.) High School standout Will Irvin improved to 9-2 on the season with the complete game victory. For Irvin, this was his seventh straight victory in seven straight appearances.
Irvin allowed just the one unearned run in the third inning that put Faulkner in the lead temporarily. He scattered six hits and recorded eight strikeouts and no walks. Fourteen of his 27 outs in the game were ground ball outs.
Offensively, Union trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Doug Joyce led off with a single. After one out, Kian Jost and Irvin followed with singles to load the bases. Kody Pinson worked a walked to earn the game-tying RBI. However, the Bulldog rally ended on a double play.
In the bottom of the seventh, Union took the lead with a pair of runs driven in by a Joyce double to deep right-center field. Danny Grimm and Clint Barnes scored the runs after reaching base to start the inning on a single and hit-by-pitch respectively.
The 3-1 advantage given to Irvin proved to be enough as Union claimed the upset win.
Joyce led Union with a 3-for-4 day including the two RBI. In addition to Irvin’s performance on the mound, he also recorded two hits in the game. Union had 10 hits total from seven different players, including each of the first four batters in the line-up.
Union advances to the winner’s bracket final Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. central time versus 2-seed St. Thomas (Fla.). The winner advances to the championship game Saturday. St. Thomas is ranked No. 12 in the latest NAIA poll.
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