The Bears went up 8-1 over the first three innings and then withstood two offensively explosive frames from Wise Central to take a 10-8 win in a battle between district and Wise County rivals at Buster Taylor Field.
ALL JUMBLED UP
Union (11-6, 5-5), Central (9-9, 6-5) and Gate City (11-9, 6-6) are headed for a probable three-way tie for third place in the district’s final regular-season standings.
That was a frustrating point for Central coach J.W. Salyers, who watched his team fall to Gate City on Thursday before losing to Union. A win in either game could have clinched the third spot in the Mountain 7 tournament for the Warriors.
“We did not come out to play baseball today,” Salyers said. “In a game of this magnitude, that’s what disappoints me the most.
“We could have wrapped up third on Thursday against Gate City. And we came out the exact same way. Tonight, the same situation, we could have wrapped up third — a good seed, even in the regional tournament -— and we didn’t come out ready.
“If this was a boxing match, we’d likely be in the hospital. We let them take it to us early and we didn’t punch back until it was about too late. That’s the frustrating part.”
Central took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Daniel Lawson tripled and then scored on a wild pitch. But from there, Union scored eight straight runs over three innings.
The Bears went up 3-1 in the bottom of the first on a two-out, three-run home run from senior left-hander Landry Baker. They added three runs in the second and two more in the third to build an 8-1 advantage.
All eight runs came with two outs.
“We’ll take the wins any way we can get them,” said Union coach David Wyrick. “It was a matter that we put together what we do in practice. And we kept some pressure on them and that’s the game of baseball.”
After Central rallied in the fourth to score four runs and cut the Union lead to 8-5, the Bears got two more runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to Baker’s second homer of the game.
“I just picked up the ball really well and got a couple of good hits on the barrel and the ball left the yard,” noted Baker, a senior who said the Central game is always a big rivalry.
The Warriors took the teams’ first meeting in Wise.
“This game was big for conference play and seeding. And on a personal level for most of us,” Baker said.
“We weren’t perfect but we came in and got the job done.”
Baker finished with five RBIs.
Union also got 2-for-3, two-RBI performances from Hunter Anderson and Brody Gibson. Mason Caldwell finished 3-for-4.
Central’s Bryson Collins smacked a three-run homer and finished 2-for-3. Lawson also went 2-for-3 and scored twice.
Central ends its regular season Friday at Abingdon.
Union has two Mountain 7 games to close the regular season. The Bears host John Battle on Thursday and play at Lee High on Monday.