Welcome to The Doghouse, a weekly column recapping Union University sports action from the weekend.
This weekend, Union baseball went 2-1 against West Florida, while softball went 0-3. The Union Jaxx went 3-1 in their final regular season tournament at Samford University.
In the three baseball games this weekend at Union’s Fesmire Field, the Bulldogs won two out of three with scores of 6-0, 1-7, and 6-5.
In the first game, a shutout, the Bulldogs scored in the second and seventh innings. In the second inning, Zach Wylie singled, scoring Zach Phillips and Dylan Moore. In the seventh, Austin Orr singled, scoring Ryan Roper and Hayden Lewis. Then, Tyler Mauzy reached on an error, scoring Wylie. The final run came off a Nolen Milton single, scoring Orr.
The Bulldogs had five hits in the game, while the Argonauts had four.
JR Miller started on the mound for Union, earning the win after eight innings pitched. Marty Coursey closed the game, allowing two baserunners.
In the second game, West Florida flipped the storyline, allowing just one run and putting up seven of their own. After one inning, the game was tied 1-1. The Argonauts scored due to two singles, a stolen base, and a fielder’s choice, while the Bulldogs had a double, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch. Union had two hits throughout the remaining six innings combined, while West Florida had seven.
For West Florida, Michael Savas had an RBI sacrifice fly in the second. In the fourth, Brandon Harmon reached on an error, scoring Tanner Halstead, and Justin Ambrosino singled, scoring Harmon and Chase Kiefer. In the sixth, Ladeavon Matthews singled, scoring Nick Kerkmann, and in the seventh, Kiefer singled, scoring Halstead.
Teddy Christie took the loss for Union, allowing four runs on four hits in 3.2 innings pitched. Austin Kitterman, Joe Hudson, and Tommy Weiler each allowed one run in relief.
“You just reach a point in the season where every game is important,” said Union head coach Lee Driggers. “This was a big series for us, and by getting a split [Saturday], we knew that [Sunday] was going to keep us in pretty good shape. We lose this, and we’re fighting uphill.”
In Sunday’s rubber match, West Florida scored in the first frame, with Harmon reaching home on a Kerkmann single. Union responded with Wylie and Phillips each hitting an RBI single. In the third, Union built up their lead, making it 5-1 thanks to an RBI double from Lewis and a 2-RBI double from Roper.
In the fourth, Milton grounded into a double play. The play raised debate, as the Bulldog fans and coaches argued the ball hit Milton in foul territory.
“I try not to let the tension get to me,” Driggers said. “Everybody gets excited, but we’re thinking about the job at hand, the next pitch, and what we’ve got to do.”
After discussing the play, the umpires upheld their initial call. West Florida used this to fuel a fifth inning explosion, tying the game 5-5. Savas belted a triple to left center and Harmon singled, scoring Savas. Then, Ambrosino reached on a single, setting up Kerkmann for a three-run homer.
At this point, Kitterman came in to relieve Union starter Skyler Harrison, and held the Argonauts scoreless. In the bottom of the inning, Phillips hit a game-winning solo homer.
“Not only did we have a lot of hits, but we had some timely hits as well, and that’s what we haven’t been doing the last few weeks,” Driggers said. “The guys swung the bat really well today and got some good pitches to hit, so they just kept competing.”
Kitterman earned the win in 3.2 innings of relief, allowing three hits. Coursey closed the game with a three-up-three-down ninth.
“We didn’t have to say anything to motivate them today,” Driggers said. “I think we came out and finally played much better than we’ve been playing the last few weeks.”
Union is 23-11 on the season, with a 12-8 conference record.
This year’s Lady Bulldogs roster is a young, often starting six freshmen.
“Some of the lessons we’ve had to learn this year, with so many freshmen and being young,” said Union head coach Heather Hall, “[are] learning to make the right decisions, learning how to treat each other, and learning how to compete and still be Christ-centered.”
In this weekend’s games, Union pursued team unity and Christian character, but fell short on the scoreboard. West Florida swept the series with final scores of 8-2, 8-5, and 11-7.
In game one, West Florida scored first, with a three-run homer from Rachel Wright in the fourth and a 2-RBI double from Tiona Hill in the fifth. The Lady Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the fifth, with a sacrifice bunt from LaDesha Nelson that scored Emily Bennett. Both teams scored in the sixth, with West Florida putting up two runs and Union getting one. The Argonauts added a run in the seventh, with Baleigh Boltz hitting a solo homerun to set the final socre of 8-2.
Hannah Ridolfi took the loss, pitching the entire game for Union.
In the second game, Union scored first, with a sacrifice fly from Paige Robertson that scored Ashley Scott. West Florida scored twice in the following frame, with a solo homer from Hill and an RBI single from Sara Spears. The Lady Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a single from Nelson that scored Bennett. In the fourth, Rhiannon Sassman hit a 2-RBI single for West Florida and two additional runs scored on an error. Union responded with a three-run homer from Gabby Morris that scored Scott and Ridolfi. In the eighth, West Georgia added to their lead with two runs on three hits and one error.
Parker Davis started in the circle for the Lady Bulldogs. Davis pitched one inning, and was responsible for two runs off of four hits. Morris took the loss after allowing three runs in 2.1 innings of relief. Ridolfi also allowed three runs in her 3.2 innings of relief.
Sunday, both the Argonauts and the Lady Bulldogs scored early. In the top of the first inning, Sassman had a two-run homer for West Florida, scoring Jacey Castro. In the bottom, Union’s Scott hit an RBI single, scoring Robertson, and Haley Barnette hit a three-run homer, scoring Morris and Scott. In the second inning, Castro hit an RBI double for the Argonauts. For Union, Robertson hit an RBI single and Barnette drew an RBI walk.
In the fifth, Wright hit a 3-RBI double to tie the game 6-6. In the following inning, Sassman hit a 2-RBI triple and went on to score on a ground out by Callan Taylor. Barnette’s RBI single in the bottom of that inning would be Union’s last run scored. In the seventh, West Florida added two runs due to two walks, a stolen base, a wild pitch, an RBI ground out, and a fielding error.
Davis started for Union, pitching three innings and allowing five runs on five hits. Morris took the loss, going 3.2 innings and allowing six runs on six hits. Ashley Graves closed the game, facing the final batter and forcing a ground out.
The Lady Bulldogs are 21-18 overall and 6-15 in conference play.
“We really have a group of phenomenal young ladies. The nucleus of the team really picks each other up,” said Hall. “I’m really excited for our future, because we have such a strong class that is only going to get better with time.”
The Union Jaxx took 2nd place out of five teams at the April Fool’s Fest at Samford University on Saturday.
The tournament consisted of four round robin style games for each team. The Jaxx opened with a 13-11 win over Alabama Birmingham followed by a 10-12 loss to Alabama. Then, the Jaxx defeated Samford 10-7 and Mississippi State 12-10.
Union’s MVP was Jeff Williams, and the team’s Rookie MVP was Marterrace “M-Tee” Brock.
The Jaxx close out the regular season with a record of 10-9. According to USA Ultimate, they have a power rating of 1276, good for 18th in Division III as well as 2nd in the Southeast Region behind Alabama Huntsville.
Monday and Tuesday, Union’s men’s and women’s golf teams will play in the Martin Methodist RedHawk Invitational. Also on Tuesday, baseball will host Arkansas Monticello. On Saturday and Sunday, both baseball and softball will travel to Lee University.