DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Troy Sitton pulled out some late-game heroics as he belted a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to left fourth-seeded Union to a 6-5 win over fifth-seeded St. Thomas (Fla.) in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
The Bulldogs (39-16 overall) move on to face host and top-seeded Embry-Riddle (Fla.) tonight at 6 p.m.
St. Thomas (30-30 overall) will face the loser of the game between No. 2 Faulkner (Ala.) and No. 3 Rio Grande (Ohio) at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Sitton (Cobden, Ill.) stepped up to the plate with one out and no one on in the bottom of the ninth when he took an Ali Salazar offering over the right-field fence for his third home run of the season.
The Bulldog first baseman finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs and was the lone Union play with multiple hits and RBIs. The Bobcat pitching staff limited the Bulldogs to seven base hits on the day.
Koby Hearn (Paris, Ky.) tossed the final 3 1/3 innings to pick up the win, improving to 4-2 on the season. He allowed no runs on one hit and one walk with one strikeout. Brandon Hedrick (Corbin, Ky.) got the start but lasted only 5 2/3 innings as he surrendered five runs, only one earned, on eight hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
Union took advantage of a Bobcat error in the bottom of the third in pushing across five runs. With runners on second and third and one out, Demetrius Davis (Marietta, Ga.) lofted a sac fly to right right to score the game's first run. Ryan Satterlee (Youngstown, Ohio) then came through with a run-scoring single before Brian Mouton (Oakland, Calif.), Hedrick and Sitton followed with back-to-back-to-back doubles to push Union's lead to 5-0.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs committed a pair of errors which led to four unearned runs for the Bobcats. Alvaro Batos lined a two-out, two-run single to center field to cap the rally, pulling St. Thomas within 5-4.
The Bobcats evened the ledger at 5-5 in the sixth when Ruy Rodriguez singled in a run for his second RBI of the game.
It remained 5-5 until the bottom of the ninth when Sitton ended the game with a solo blast to right.
Batos and Rodriguez both finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Nestor Rincon and Victor Madrazo also went 2-for-4 as the Bobcats had only nine hits.
Salazar suffered the loss to drop him to 6-3 on the season. He gave up one run on one hit and no walks in 1 2/3 innings of work.