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KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan went the distance and then some to capture the 2012 Appalachian Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament championship, defeating No. 3 seed Union 5-3 in 10 innings Friday.
Anthony Boix delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 10th to break a 3-3 tie. Union got the game-tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning, but Zach Fleshman got the final batter to fly out to left-center field to seal the 5-3 victory for Tennessee Wesleyan.
The tournament title is the sixth in a row for Tennessee Wesleyan (45-11 overall). The last time someone other than TWC won the baseball championship was in 2006 when Union defeated Tennessee Wesleyan. Union and Tennessee Wesleyan have met in tournament final in five of the past seven years.
Tennessee Wesleyan, ranked No. 7 in the NAIA, received an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round with the championship. The pairings will be announced Sunday.
The game was tightly contested from the outset. Tennessee Wesleyan squeaked out a run in the second and fourth innings for a 2-0 advantage. Union (35-21 overall) evened the score in the sixth. Joe Engle scored on a Tyler Brake groundout to make it 2-1, and Cory Perreault added a two-out, RBI single to tie the game.
Union took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Nelson Price singled in a run.
In the eighth, Tennessee Wesleyan had runners on the corners with two outs when Dale Ricketts struck out swining. However, the pitch was wild and got away from Union catcher Gabby Juarbe, allowing Ricketts to reach safely - and more importantly, Jake Stone to score to tie the game at 3-3.
Both teams had chances to win the game in the ninth. Tennessee Wesleyan had the bases loaded with one out when Taylor Oldham lined out to shortstop Perreault who quickly threw to Arthur Dockery at second to turn the double play. In the bottom of the ninth, Union had two on with two outs. Yet, Fleshman got Tennessee Wesleyan out of the jam with a strikeout.
It stayed 3-3 until the top of the 10th when Boix lined a single to center to drive in two runs to put Tennessee Wesleyan up for good at 5-3.
Both teams did a good a good job of coming through in the clutch - with all but one run being scored with two outs, as well as getting out of jams as the teams combined to strand 26 runners - Tennessee Wesleyan left 14 on and Union 12.
For complete look at the tournament statistics, click here.
For the tournament page, go here.