Opening Four Rivers Conference play with a victory, the Union baseball Wildcats improved to 3-1 on the season Thursday afternoon in Gasconade County with a 5-0 shutout win.

“Our defense was much improved from the night before,” said Union Head Coach Ryan Bailey. “With an older team I was hoping they could use some experience to get themselves better prepared coming off the bus to put together a solid effort in the field and they did. Our bats are still struggling — we left them somewhere during our spring break — but until we find them we’ll need pitching and defense and tonight we had enough of both to get a big Four Rivers Conference win.”

The game had been scheduled for Union, but the East Central College field was deemed unplayable and the teams agreed to move it to Hermann.

Despite traveling, Union still was the home team and scored single tallies in the bottom of the first and second innings. Union added one run in the fifth and two in the bottom of the sixth.

Ashton Dehn went the distance for the Wildcats, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out 12 in the shutout.

“Ashton Dehn threw a quality game. Our offense is struggling right now and for him to come out and throw a shutout was big. He’s having a very good season from the mound so far. He’s got good movement on his pitches and his control has been great. With only one walk and 12 strikeouts, Ashton allowed our defense to make a mistake here and there and not be hurt by it. He’s been a big game pitcher.”

Offensively, Drew Juengel and Devon Fennessey each had two hits. Juengel added two runs, an RBI and two stolen bases. Fennessey also had two runs and two stolen bases.

“Drew Juengel had a nice day at the plate with two key hits that scored one of our runs while he scored two himself,” Bailey said. “He was able to get in scoring position with some good reads of the Hermann pitcher creating two steals for himself. As a team, we’ve really been having a hard time stringing together hits and hitting balls into the gaps for extra bases. We need everyone to start picking each other up and putting some crooked numbers on the board. Until we do, however, it’s good that we can get a few guys each game to come through for us as Drew did tonight.”

Dehn (RBI), Brendan Burgess (run) and Andrew Lenau (stolen base) each had one hit.

Aldwin Fleer walked and stole two bases.

North County

The Wildcats fell for the first time this season Wednesday afternoon in Bonne Terre.

North County defeated Union, 7-1.

The Raiders scored four times in the bottom of the first and never looked back.

The Union run came in the top of the fifth, but North County answered with one run of its own in the bottom of that frame and added two more in the bottom of the sixth.

Eight Union errors played a huge role in the outcome. Only one of the seven North County runs was earned.

“We just played a bad game,” Bailey said. “It happens sometimes. Our defense was poor from the minute we took the field in warmups. Eight errors is hard to do — you almost have to try and make that many mistakes. When it happens, it seems like it’s one thing after the other. Our pitchers deserved better but they allowed the North County batters to put some good wood on the ball by throwing too many balls right down the middle of the plate. Overall, it was just a game we need to learn from and then forget.”

Union had six hits in the contest.

Burgess, Fennessey, Trey Fink, Dillen Myers, Nick Schumaker and Lenau posted one hit apiece. Fennessesy had the only extra-base hit, a triple.

Fleer scored Union’s run. Fennessey recorded the RBI.

Schumaker also drew a walk.

On the hill, Bailey employed three pitchers. Juengel got the start and took the loss while going 3.1 innings. He allowed four runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk. He fanned three Raiders.

Dehn pitched 1.2 innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits. He struck out two.

Fink pitched one inning, allowing two unearned runs on two hits.