UNION — The Jackets survived a major scare on Friday night when Woodruff threatened to deal them their first region loss and put an end to their 6-0 hot streak. Union County trailed in every inning but the one that mattered — the 10th and final inning — where smart base-running and a couple of Woodruff mistakes led to a 5-4 win.
The Jackets faced a four-run deficit when the dugout began to show signs of life. Woodruff took the early lead on a two-run homer in the top of the second inning. Fielding miscues cost Union County two more in the third, pushing the margin to 4-0.
Woodruff pitcher Jake Peavy kept the Jackets off-balance at the plate in the early innings, allowing just two hits in the first four with seven strikeouts.
Then fatigue began to set in on the right handed hurler and Union County capitalized.
Will Palmer drew a one-out walk and Mark Jeter was hit by a pitch. Recus Hughes singled to center field to drive in Palmer before a couple of fly outs ended the inning with two runners left on base. The Jackets returned to the field trailing by three runs but with a spring in their step. Momentum had shifted. Woodruff collected two hits in the top of the sixth and were looking to score but Union County wouldn’t allow it. With runners on second and third, Michael Todd Harris scooped up a grounder on the infield and made the throw to Troy Millwood at home plate. Millwood put the tag on to give Woodruff its second out of the inning and a pop-up allowed the Jackets to escape unscathed.
Juwuan Rice singled to left field in the bottom of the sixth and Peavy issued walks to the the next two batters, loading the bases with one out. Palmer dropped a single into right field to score Rice and then Quay Cooper crossed home on a fielder’s choice by Aaron Baily. Woodruff carried a 4-3 advantage into the seventh inning but it was clear that Union County had taken control of the game despite the scoreboard. The Jackets made quick work of Woodruff in the top of the inning with two ground outs and a strikeout. With one last chance to defend its turf, Union County went to work. Hughes drew a lead-off walk, then stole second when Dustin West lined out to the left fielder. A balk by the pitcher put Hughes on third base and a fielder’s choice by Harris brought him home. Woodruff kept the Jackets’ scoring to one run but it was enough to force extra innings.
The contest remained at a 4-4 stalemate until the tenth inning when Union County plated the go-ahead run. Harris walked, stole his way to third base and scored on a fielding error.
Hughes pitched nine innings for the Jackets before Jimmy Johnson picked up the save. Hughes allowed two earned runs with seven hits and nine strikeouts. Johnson allowed one hit with one strikeout.
Cooper went 1-for-2 with two walks and one run scored to lead the offense. Hughes was 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI. Harris, Rice and Palmer each added a hit and an RBI.