BLUEFIELD, Va. - Another day, another complete-game victory for Union pitching staff as senior Donnie Popham went the distance in the 6-3 Appalachian Athletic Conference victory over host Bluefield (Va.) Tuesday.
The Bulldogs got what they needed from the pitching staff in sweeping the three-game set from the Rams. Union used only three hurlers in outscoring Bluefield 15-3.
With the win, Union improves to 17-14 overall and 5-4 in conference play. Bluefield is now 18-15 overall and 2-9 in the AAC.
The nine inning pitched is a career high for Popham (Louisville, Ky.), whose previous best was seven innings in a 7-1 win over Cumberlands (Ky.) on April 5, 2011. This season, the right-hander had not gone more than six innings in a game. He allowed three runs, one earned, on five hits and no walks with two strikeouts. Popham came close to issuing a base on balls twice in the ninth as he recorded two three-ball counts. But he managed to work his way out of them and recorded the outs.
Even though Popham took care of business on the mound, Union still had to battle from behind to record the 6-3 victory. Bluefield drew first blood in the third when two runs scored off a passed ball.
Union cut the margin to 2-1 in the fourth when Clay Ragland
(Chillicothe, Ohio) scored thanks to a Nelson Price (Burkesville, Ky.) sac fly. However, the Rams made it 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Zac Goodyear tripled in a run.
The Bulldogs, though, seized control of the game in the fifth as they capitalized on a three Ram errors in pushing four runs across. Joe Engle (Sidney, Ohio) singled in the go-ahead run and later scored when Price reached on an error, giving Union a 5-3 advantage.
It remained a two-run game until the ninth when Brake singled in Ragland for a 6-3 cushion.
Popham set the Rams down in order in the ninth to lock up his first career complete-game victory.
In all, Popham faced the minimum batters possible in six of the nine innings.
Engle had a solid day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a RBI, while Ragland went 2-for-5 with a RBI and three runs scored. Cory Perreault (Phoenix, Ariz.) finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Union returns to action Wednesday when it plays host to Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) for a single, nine-inning game at 3 p.m.