Two runs per game weren’t enough for the Union baseball Wildcats.
Union (0-2) opened the season Saturday in Rolla with a pair of losses. The Wildcats fell to host Rolla, 7-2, and to Russellville, 8-2.
“We played both games close for half the game, but our bats never really got going,” Union Head Coach Ryan Bailey said. “We need to improve in that area in order to score runs. We took too many strikes both early in the count and then to end the at bat with a strikeout looking. Nothing good happens from a strikeout so we’ll have to get better at putting the ball in play and learning the strike zone. We had so few baserunners we couldn’t even try to manufacture much offense.”
Union looks for its first victory of the season with another three-team event at Cuba Saturday. The event starts at 10 a.m. The third team is Greenville, Ill.
In the loss to Rolla, Union was limited to four hits in the game. The Wildcats had three hits in the loss to Russellville.
“There were a lot of areas where improvements need to be made,” Bailey said. “Whether with hitting, pitching, defense, or baserunning we have a ways to go in order to be playing our best baseball. We did play better during the second game, so we’re looking to keep improving and when our inexperienced players start to feel comfortable at the plate and in the field during a varsity game we’ll see where we stand.”
Union was hurt by errors in the Russellville game, committing five miscues. Against Rolla, Union made one error.
“We’re very inexperienced this year,” Bailey said. “We have two returning full-time starters and two players who started for the varsity toward the end of last season after we had some roster turnover. All the rest of our varsity and JV players have played very little if any varsity baseball, and many were on the freshman team last year or are freshmen this year. We’re looking for them to gain some experience here early on and show us what they can do and then hopefully we’ll find nine players that give us a shot to win.”
Bailey said the pitching has to improve as well.
“In the first game, Trey (Fink) made some bad decisions in the second inning and this caused his pitch count to get high and they started to hit him hard in the fourth and fifth innings. Avery (Griffin) didn’t give up many hits but he allowed too many base runners through walks and hit batsmen. We only had seven strikeouts from our pitching staff over two games, so when you allow 31 baserunners over that same amount of innings you’ve got to have more swings and misses to make up for that.”
In the game against Russellville, Russellville scored once in the top of the second, but Union rallied with two runs in the third. Russellville scored three in the fourth and four in the fifth.
Nick Schumaker doubled, scored and drove in a run.
Jacob Kreutz had a hit and one run.
Emmett Parker added a hit.
Blake Pickard and Nick Eads walked.
Fink pitched five innings and took the loss, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits (three doubles), three walks and two hit batters. He struck out four.
Dillon Breeden went one inning and allowed a walk.
Drew Reed pitched one inning, allowing a hit while striking out one batter.
In the game against Rolla, the host Bulldogs scored twice in the first, but Union tied it in the third.
Rolla scored four times in the fourth and once in the sixth to win the game.
Dustin Griffin had two hits, including a double, and drove in both Union runs.
Pickard and Schumaker each had one hit and one run. Avery Griffin and Breeden walked.
Avery Griffin took the loss, going five innings while allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits (one double), five walks and one hit batter. He struck out one.
Keaton Groff relieved and allowed one run on two hits (one double) and one walk over one inning. He struck out one.