The Union Wildcats needed a win to stay in contention for the Four Rivers Conference baseball title.
They got it Thursday on the road at St. Clair (4-7, 0-3). Union (5-7, 2-1) scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to break the game open and pick up a 6-2 victory.
The win keeps Union within striking distance of conference leaders Sullivan (3-0) and Owensville (2-0).
“You can win conference with one loss, but you can’t win it with two,” Union Head Coach Ryan Bailey said. “We proved that last year when we won the conference with a 6-1 record. We shot ourselves in the foot when we played Pacific and so we need to win the rest of them. St. Clair is a good team that has some good arms and some good bats and we came out today and were able to keep their bats in check.”
Union opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the fourth, which St. Clair answered in the home half of the frame with a two-run home run by Dalton Thompson.
St. Clair outhit Union, 7-5, in the game, but could not capitalize on other scoring chances.
“That was a big hit,” St. Clair Head Coach Mitchell Lundy said of Thompson’s home run. “They added two in the top of that inning and we came back and Thomp put a good swing on it and tied the game up. It was a really big hit. ... I thought we had our chances early and unfortunately came up short. I thought we put some good swings together, particularly early in the game, had a lot of chances and just didn’t come up with the big hit.”
Andrew Bruner was responsible for the first two Union runs, driving in Matt Bray and Isaiah Hoelscher on a bases-loaded single.
After Thompson tied the game with his blast, Union came back out with a walk and a single before Matt Bray put a fly ball into right center field that got down between a pair of defenders, scoring the go-ahead run.
Light rain moved into the area as the Union bats started to provide some thunder. A walk to Hoelscher loaded up the bases and then Andy Morrow unloaded them with a three-RBI double over the head of left fielder Timmy Hoffman. Morrow ended up at third base on the throw to the plate that was not in time to prevent Hoelscher from scoring all the way from first.
“Bruner had a big hit and scored two,” Bailey said. “It was good baserunning with a guy on second and we just kept pushing it. It was a base hit to left field and he was able to make them make a throw and it was high and he got in there. Then it was Isaiah Hoelscher on first with Andy’s hit who pushed it all the way around and scored. We got some good baserunning with that and I think we played a pretty good defensive game and got good pitching. We haven’t had a whole lot of those games this year.”
Trevor Kelly threw the complete game for Union. In seven innings, he allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
“Trevor did a heck of a job,” Bailey said. “He gave up a hit here or there, but got stronger as the game went on and gave us a complete game. That’s what we need. He’s the ace of our staff and it was nice to see him get a win.”
Kelly was opposed by Sam Oermann, who lasted 4.1 innings and allowed six runs, five earned, on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Blaine Downey pitched in relief for 2.2 innings. He shut out the Wildcats the remainder of the game, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out two.
Bray had two of the five Union hits, both singles, and scored twice with one stolen base.
Morrow, Bruner and Kelly had one hit apiece.
Hoelscher scored two of the Union runs and Kelly scored once.
Two walks were issued to Hoelscher. Morrow, Peyton Burke and Mason Bailey each reached on a walk.
Bruner added a stolen base.
Cole Venable, Timmy Hoffman and Thompson each had two hits for the Bulldogs. Other than Thompson’s home run, Hoffman’s double was the only extra-base hit for St. Clair.
Johnny Kindel also connected for a single.
Venable stole two bases. Thompson and Ethan Crow each stole a base.
Bailey Smith and Thompson scored the two St. Clair runs.
Michael Hughes, Oermann and Wes Hinson all reached on walks for the Bulldogs.
Catchers Hughes and Ronin Straatmann each threw out a runner attempting to steal.
Union is scheduled to continue conference play Monday on the road at St. James at 4:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs will also be on the road Monday, playing at Hermann at 4:30 p.m.