Tennessee Wesleyan College pulled themselves even atop the Appalachian Athletic Conference baseball standings with a 14-6 victory over Union College in the opener of their three game series this past weekend, but was in danger of going two games down until a late rally salvaged a split in the doubleheader that followed. Wesleyan stumbled through a 4-2 loss in Saturday's first game and trailed 5-3 going to the bottom of the sixth in the nightcap. Wesleyan put together six hits, including two home runs and a clutch single from an unlikely hero. to plate seven runs in the inning and then held on in the seventh for a 10-9 win.
In Friday's game, the Bulldogs trailed 2-1 before erupting for four runs in the third on a Johnny Smith double, followed by singles from Cody Gaskill and Ryan Santos and a groundout. Wesleyan made it 8-3 in the fifth when a hit-batsmen and two walks set up a three-run double by David Lindsay. Cody Gaskill hit a two-run homer in the sixth; Kurtis Bramlett singled a run home in the seventh and Brad Pippa plated two runs with a single in a three-run eighth. Justin Crowell picked up the win, allowing six runs on six hits with six strikeouts, three walks and hitting one batter. Hamilton Bennett tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, surrendering one hit and striking out three. Cody Gaskill went 3-for-5, with a home run, driving in four runs and scoring three. Johnny Smith had two hits with a double and scored four runs. David Lindsay added two hits with three RBIs; Pippa two hits with two RBIs and Santos a hit with two RBIs.
In the first game on Saturday, the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Ryan Santos single and tied the game at two on a David Lindsay double and wild pitch in the fifth. Union, however, used two hits, an intentional walk and two sacrifice bunts to plate two runs in the sixth. Wesleyan threatened in the bottom of the inning with singles by Rafael Carlot and Brad Pippa, but left the runners stranded at second and third. Troy Graybill took the loss, surrendering four runs on six hits with six strikeouts and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. Jason Ferguson pitched 1 1/3 innings of hitless relief with two strikeouts. The Bulldogs had only four hits.
In the last game of the series, Wesleyan trailed 4-1 before solo home runs from Max Loveland in the third and Johnny Smith in the fifth cut the gap to 4-3. Two walks, a sacrifice bunt and error gave Union a run in the sixth before Daniel Wood came on in relief of starter Matt McCracken with runners at second and third and one out. Wood squashed the rally with two strikeouts sandwiched around and an intentional walk. Ryan Santos, Rafael Carlot and Brad Pippa had consecutive singles to start the sixth and bring TWC within one at 5-4. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. With one out, Lindsay was walked intentionally to load the bases and Berry called on pitcher Freddy Lewis to pinch hit in the nine spot, usually reserved for Kurtis Bramlett, the designated hitter. Freddy Lewis singled through the left side to chase home two runs and put Wesleyan on top 6-5. An error scored another run before Smith hit his second home run of the game. Cody Gaskill then capped the uprising with a home run and TWC led 10-5. Loveland was brought on in relief, but was greeted with three straight singles to load the bases before getting the next batter on a strikeout, The junior righthander, who is also the every-day centerfielder, then surrendered a grand slam home run that brought Union within one at 10-9. A single put the tying run on base, but two ground ball outs ended the game. McCracken went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits while striking out two and walking four. Ferguson faced one batter that reached on an error. Wood got the win with two strikeouts and a walk (intentional) in 2/3 of an inning. Loveland gave up four runs on five hits with one strikeout. Johnny Smith went 3-for-3 with two home runs, driving in three runs and scoring two. Ryan Santos was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and Freddy Lewis a single with two RBIs.
The Bulldogs will be playing away for the next several games starting at Georgetown College on Tuesday, April 6th at 4:00 pm. The Bulldogs then travel to Reinhardt College for a weekend series on April 9th and 10th. Friday's action begins at 6:00 pm and then Saturday starts at 2:00 pm. On April 13th the Bulldogs will face Lee University at 6:00 pm.