They finished at opposite ends of the Four Rivers Conference standings last season.
But that didn’t keep the Union Wildcats and New Haven Shamrocks from playing a tight league contest Monday in New Haven.
Union held on to win, 4-3, to open FRC play.
“It was a fun game to watch and be a part of,” New Haven Head Coach Andrew Reidt said.
The Wildcats (3-4, 1-0) opened the game with a run in the top of the first and added another in the third after having three batters reach base after being hit by pitches.
New Haven (1-4 overall, 0-1) rallied in the fourth to tie it at 2-2, but Union retook the lead with a run in the top of the fifth and added another run in the top of the sixth.
New Haven pulled to within a run in the bottom of the sixth.
“Derek Hulsey had the play of the game with his catch in left field to end the sixth inning,” Union Head Coach Ryan Bailey said. “Derek has had a great start to the season and he’s doing it with the bat, on the mound, and now with his glove. We wouldn’t have our three wins without him.”
Reidt agreed that was one of the game’s biggest plays.
“The game could’ve went either way, their left fielder made an amazing diving catch with the bases loaded and two outs when we’re down 4-3 in the sixth and that was the difference in the game,” Reidt said.
Union’s Andrew Bruner started the game and was the winner after going five innings. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out eight.
“Andrew Bruner threw a good game,” Bailey said. “He had eight strikeouts and no walks and anytime a pitcher gives you that kind of outing it’s good to repay him with the win.”
Isaiah Hoelscher got two outs in the sixth, allowing a run on a hit and two walks.
Trevor Kelly picked up the save. Over 1.1 innings, he allowed a hit and a walk while striking out two.
“Trevor Kelly came in and although he didn’t start out with his best command he competed and found it at the right time, getting a big strikeout of a New Haven player who had hit the ball hard three times during the game,” Bailey said. “Anytime you can line Trevor up against another team in any sport you’ve got a chance. He’s tough and he’ll win more than he loses. We need that.”
Trent Kormeier got the start for New Haven and lasted six innings before hitting his pitch limit. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, four walks and three hit batters. He struck out eight.
“Trent threw very well and kept us in the ball game and was able to give us a chance,” Reidt said.
Matthew Laune pitched the final inning, walking one and striking out one.
Offensively, Union had six hits. Hulsey posted two while Kelly, Bruner, Andy Morrow and Peyton Burke had one hit each. Burke, Hulsey and Kelly doubled.
Burke drew two walks. Kelly, Matt Bray and Morrow walked once.
Bray, Bruner and Kelly were hit by pitches. Kelly stole two bases. Kelly had one swipe.
Kelly scored three of the runs. Burke also scored.
Bruner and Morrow each had one RBI.
August Panhorst had two hits, including a double, for the Shamrocks.
“August Panhorst was great at the plate for us,” Reidt said. “He had great approaches at the plate and was driving the ball.”
Cody Groner also had two hits.
Christian Paterson, Isaac Vedder and Ethan Groner had one hit apiece.
Paterson, Levi Schroeder and Ethan Groner walked. Paterson stole a base and Owen Borcherding had a sacrifice.
Panhorst scored twice. Cody Groner had the other run.
Panhorst and Vedder each had one RBI.
“Win or lose I’m very happy with the competition level of the team yesterday,” Reidt said.