BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Union had its sights set on another upset, but it was not meant to be as visiting and top-ranked Tennessee Wesleyan battled back to claim the 9-7, 11-inning Appalachian Athletic Conference victory on Saturday.
The loss drops Union to 19-12 overall and 6-6 in conference play, while Tennessee Wesleyan is 25-9 overall and 10-2 in the AAC. Tennessee Wesleyan also won the weekend series two games to one.
Tied 6-6 after eight innings, both teams had their chances in the ninth and 10th to take the lead and/or the win, but all attempts went for naught. Tennessee Wesleyan had one on with one out in the ninth, but the threat ended when Gabby Juarbe (San Juan, P.R.) threw out Aaron Stubblefield trying to steal second for the third out in the frame. In the bottom of the ninth, Nelson Price (Burkesville, Ky.) and Tyler Young (Manchester, Ky.) lined back-to-back, singles with two outs. However, Noah Piard got the next batter to fly out to center to send the game to extra innings.
Both teams rapped out a single apiece in the 10th, but no runners got past second base.
In the top of the 11th, Tennessee Wesleyan managed to load the bases with two outs when Travis Burnside roped a 3-2 pitch down the right-field line for a double, driving in all three runs for a 9-6 advantage.
Union was not about to go down with a fight, and Juarbe led off the bottom of the 11th with a solo home run to left. Tyler Brake (Burlington, Ky.) nearly made a 9-8 game with a solo shot of his own but Trey Griffin snagged it at the wall. Piard got Union's next to batters to ground out, sealing the 9-7 Tennessee Wesleyan win.
Piard improved to 2-0 with the win, allowing one run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings of work. Jared Tomany (Bryant, Wis.) suffered the loss to go to 0-1, surrendering four earned runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings pitched.
Union received production throughout its lineup with LaVance Anderson (Bowling Green, Ky.), Juarbe, Price and Ben Hartley (Lexington, Ky.) each collected two hits. Juarbe and Price each had two RBIs as well. Jackson Arnett (Tompkinsville, Ky.) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and a home run.
The 1-2-3 hitters in Tennessee Wesleyan's lineup as well as the No. 9 hitter did the most damage for the visitors, going a combined 15-for-25 with five runs scored and six RBIs. The rest of Tennessee Wesleyan's lineup with 4-of-24 with two RBIs.
Burnside, Tennessee Wesleyan's leadoff hitter, finished the game 6-for-7 with three doubles and three RBIs. Jake Stone went 4-of-7 with a RBI, while Branden Walker was 3-for-5 with three runs scored.
Union received a solid pitching performance out of starter Drew Hillard (Lexington, Ky.). Lasting five inning, he allowed one earned run on eight hits and three walks and fanned a season-high seven batters.
Tennessee Wesleyan drew first blood with a run in the top of the third, but Union countered with a four-run rally all starting with two outs. With two gone, Hartley got things started with a single, and Anderson followed with a bunt single to put runners on first and second. Juarbe followed with a single up the middle to score Hartley to make it 1-1. After a walk to load the bases, Price singled through the left side of the infield to drive in two more runs. Zach Dillman (Cincinnati, Ohio) followed with a RBI single of his own, making it a 4-1 contest.
Arnett led off the fourth with a solo home run to put Union up 5-1, and Hartley added a RBI single in the fifth to make it 6-1.
In the sixth, Tennessee Wesleyan put three runs on the board thanks to a Brad Carpenter two-run double and a Stone RBI single. After tallying another run in the seventh, Tennessee Wesleyan tied the game up at 6-all in the eighth on a Griffin solo home run.
Following a pair of scoreless frames, Tennessee Wesleyan pulled out the win with a three-run rally in the 11th.
By the Numbers
* The teams combined to leave 25 runners on base - 15 for Tennessee Wesleyan and 10 for Union
* Juarbe now leads the team in home runs with four. Arnett's four-bagger was the first of his career and the first extra-base hit he has had this season.
* When it comes to home runs, Union has outslug its opponent this season 11-6.
* The 12 strikeouts by the Union pitching staff is a season high.
Union is now scheduled to play its next eight games on the road, beginning Tuesday at No. 12 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.). First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.