Eagles Fall in Opening Round Opener
HARDEEVILLE, S.C. – It was a case of missed opportunities for the Eagles in their first game of the Hardeeville Bracket of the NAIA Opening Round. Asbury, fifth seed in the five-team bracket, fell to fourth-seeded Union (Tenn.) 7-1.
Union will move on to play top seed Faulkner today at 6 pm while the Eagles will look to avoid elimination tomorrow at 10 am against the loser of today’s second game between second-seeded St. Thomas (Fla.) and third-seeded USC Beaufort.
Asbury (18-38) left 11 runners on base including two in the 3rd and 4th innings. It was a scoreless affair through six as Isaiah Bell continued to pitch masterfully in the postseason. The junior righty allowed only four hits through the first six innings.
In the seventh a lead off single followed by a sac bunt and a ground out put Cole McAdams on third with two outs. A single through the right side by Will Irvin gave the Bulldogs ( the first run of the game.
Asbury responded in the bottom half of the inning as Danny Olszowy knocked in Matt Cox with a double down the right field line. But with runners at second and third Tyler Wooden was thrown out by mere inches on a nice play up the middle by shortstop Danny Grimm. Grimm snagged the ball deep up the middle, spun and fired a laser to first to clip Wooden.
After that things started to fall apart for the Eagles, Bell loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth before being replaced by Micah Pace. Pace gave up a sac fly as Union retook the lead at 2-1. A throwing error on a stolen base attempt scored another and then a wild pitch brought home the third run of the inning. Union scored five times in the inning to take a 6-1 lead.
The Eagles last good chance came in the bottom of the eighth as Josh Cummins single to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. After Tyler Messner pinch-hit and was hit by a pitch, Matt Cox struck out to end the inning. The Bulldogs added another run in the ninth as Asbury went down in order to end the game.
Bell ( 4-6) took the loss after seven plus innings allowing eight hits and four earned runs. He struck out two and walked one. Jared Davis improves to 5-5 with a seven inning seven hit effort allowing only one run. Cody Dew pitched the final two innings for the Bulldogs. Asbury needed three pitchers to get the final six outs.
The Eagles collected eight hits in the game as Casey Messner, Simeon Bell and Matt Cox all had two hits a piece. The Bulldogs had only nine hits, but took advantage of six walks handed out by Eagles’ pitchers and two hit batters. Brett Pawlan and Klan Jost each had two hits for the Bulldogs. Union left nine men on base in the game.
Asbury will play at 10 am on Friday and if they win would play again at 6 pm in the losers bracket. A loss would end the season for the Eagles.