With a little help from his friends, Jacob Fleming was able to go the distance Thursday as Union defeated St. James at Wildcat Ballpark, 8-4.
“It was an intense game as we all knew it was for the lead in the conference,” Union Head Coach Ryan Bailey said. “Our dugout was pretty loud and into the game the whole night but in that bottom of the sixth as the rally started to build you could feel it and when Trevor Kelly popped that home run our dugout roof almost came off. It was one of the most fun moments I’ve had in my years coaching here.”
Union improved to 5-9 overall, 3-0 in the Four Rivers Conference, with the win.
Fleming, who was pulled at 45 pitches Tuesday against Pacific so he would be eligible to pitch against St. James, went the distance. Over seven innings, he allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven.
However, until the bottom of the sixth, that didn’t seem to be enough.
“Jacob Fleming gave us everything you could ask for from the ace of your pitching staff,” Bailey said. “It was a big risk to take him out of the Pacific game early to have him available for a full game against St. James but it ended up paying off. He was getting stronger as the game went on. He didn’t allow a base runner the last three innings of the game and as he got stronger our team grew more confident and we were able to get a rally going that won us the game.”
The Tigers scored three times in the second, but Union got two of those runs back in the third. St. James made it 4-2 in the top of the fourth.
Union exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth with a Trevor Kelly home run being the big hit. The Wildcats held on in the top of the seventh.
Kelly posted two hits, a home run and a triple.
“Lots of guys came up with big hits last night but none more so than Trevor Kelly’s three-run homer,” Bailey said. “Trevor is having a great week and I just hope it keeps going. He’s a strong kid who’s a competitor and he’s showing how clutch he truly is. Every coach wants as many players as they can who play and work like Trevor Kelly.”
Fleming helped his own cause with two hits. Caleb Mabe doubled. Avery Morrow, Logan Groff and Jake Kleekamp had one hit apiece.
Groff drew a pair of walks. Fleming, Mabe and Klenke walked once. Andrew Bruner was hit by a pitch.
Kelly scored two of the runs while Drew Willingham, Matt Bray, Mabe, Klenke, Groff and Kleekamp each scored once.
Kelly drove in three runs. Bruner had two RBIs while Fleming and Mabe drove in one run apiece.
Drew Bouse started for St. James and went 5.1 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, four walks and a hit batter. He struck out four. Ty Lewis took the loss, allowing three unearned runs on two hits and a walk.
Andrew Branson and Lucas Bahr each had two hits to lead the St. James offense.