A couple of timely hits were the key to Union Junior Legion earning a 6-5 win over Rock Hill to stay alive in the best of three series on Wednesday.
Union surrendered a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Rock Hill capitalized on pitching woes to jump ahead, 5-4.
However, the determined Union squad fought back to knot things up in the sixth inning and an RBI single in the seventh secured the win.
Union got the bats going in the second inning with Michael Todd Harris reaching off a mishandled grounder to short. Jacob Roper was issued a walk and Josh Gass singled to left field, loading the bases for Jayshua Gist. Gist drilled a hit to deep left-field for an inside-the-park grand slam to give Union a 4-0 lead.
Rock Hill picked up a run in the top of the fourth with an RBI single and Union left two runners in scoring position with three consecutive fly outs.
A hit batsman and two walks loaded the bases for Rock Hill in the fourth and a two-RBI single to right field closed the margin to one. A passed ball scored the tying run and an error sent in the go-ahead-run before Union escaped the inning.
Dustin West drew a walk in Union’s portion of the inning but was left stranded.
Rock Hill was looking to pad its lead in the sixth with one out and runners on first and second. After a flyout to right field, the runner at second was tagging but the right fielder, Roper, came up gunning to Phillip Arnold at third for out number three.
Momentum shifted to the Union dugout and Kennedy Beatty dropped an RBI single into short left field to score Gist and knot the game up at 5-5.
Union kept Rock Hill off the board in the top of the seventh with a fly out and two ground outs before returning to offense.
Bradley McKeown led off the bottom half with a single to left field and stole his way around to third base. Harris brought him the rest of the way with an RBI single to right for the winning run.
“This is the same way we beat this crowd last year,” said Coach Donnie Vinson. “We lost the first one and came back to win the next two, so we know we can do it.”
Vinson and Assistant Coach Craig King were pleased with the offensive turnaround on Wednesday.
“We hit the ball much better,” said King. “The bottom half of the lineup was strong and we stole a lot of bases. It was an overall team effort.”
King tossed four strong innings for Union, giving up one earned run before being relieved by Beatty in the fifth. After allowing two runs off a base hit, one off a passed ball and a third off an error, Beatty was replaced on the mound by Gass who worked for the remaining two and 1/3 innings without giving up a run.
“Our pitchers battled,” said King. “Phillip told me heading into the fifth that he was tired but I stuck him out there anyway. Kennedy struggled so we went with Josh and he did a good job of finishing for us.”
Union traveled back to Rock Hill on Thursday night for the final game of the series featuring Gage Eaves on the hill.
“We’re going to start Gage,” said King. “But we’ll have all our pitchers ready to go. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to win.”