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Bulldogs hold on for 17-16 win to sweep AAC series from Milligan

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - There were 33 runs scored, 38 combined base hits and 10 total pitchers used. But in the end, it all added up to a Union 17-16, Appalachian Athletic Conference victory over visiting Milligan (Tenn.) on Sunday.

The wild, one-run decision completed the three-game sweep for the Bulldogs as they improve to 27-17 overall and 12-9 in conference play. The Buffaloes fall to 20-21 overall and 7-11 in the AAC.

As one would expect, there were several offensive heroes for Union. Gabby Juarbe (San Juan, P.R.) went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs, Miguel Mendez (Lansing, Mich.) finished 2-or-5 with a home run and three RBIs, and Ben Hartley (Lexington, Ky.) was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three driven in.

A high percentage of Milligan's offense came off the bat of Brandon Malone, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs.

The scoring started early with Union posting three runs in the first inning as there was at least in one run scored in every inning except for the seventh inning as both squads were kept at bay.

After the Bulldogs took the early 3-0 lead in the first, the Buffaloes reeled off the next nine runs, scoring four in the second, two the third and three in the top of fourth. During that stretch, Malone belted two four-baggers, driving in a total of five runs to lift Milligan to a 9-3 cushion.

In the bottom of the fourth, Union began the comeback. The Bulldogs put together a two-out rally with Hartley starting it with a run-scoring single. Then with two on, Juarbe launched a three-run bomb to pull Union within 9-7.

Union evened the ledger in the fifth as Hartley lined a two-out single to push a pair of runs across.

Milligan bounced back with a three-run sixth, collecting Tyree Jefferies RBI double and a Nathan Millsap two-run single for a 12-9 lead. The Buffaloes tacked on a run in the top of the eighth thanks to a Brett Mercurio run-scoring single for a 13-9 advantage.

But then, Union's offense exploded.

The Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a walk and back-to-back hit batters. Juarbe followed with a two-run single to cut the deficit in half. After a Nelson Price (Burkesville, Ky.) single to reload the bases, Tyler Brake (Burlington, Ky.) singled to make it a one-run contest. Zach Dillman (Cincinnati, Ohio) then lofted a deep sac fly to right to drive in the equalizer, tying the game at 13-13. Tyler Young (Manchester, Ky.) put the Bulldogs up one with a run-scoring single, and Mendez punctuated the rally with a three-run home run to give Union a 17-13 lead.

Union needed those insurance runs as Milligan was not going to go down quietly. Blake Buck lined a one-out, double to drive in a run. With two on and one out, Millsap roped a two-run double to pull the Buffaloes within 17-16. Mercurio then singled, but the ball hit the umpire to keep the runners at second and first with one out. Reliever Blake King (Hindman, Ky.) got out of the jam with a strikeout and line out to left as Union escaped with the 17-16 victory.

Jared Tomany (Bryant, Wis.) picked up his first win of the season, improving to 1-2 as he allowed one earned run on four hits and no walks with two strikeouts in three innings pitched. The save is the first for King, who gave up no runs on two hits and no walks with a strikeout.

Jake Howell suffered the loss for Milligan, dropping him to 0-2. He was responsible for five earned runs on five hits and no walks with one strikeout.


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