Dayton, Tenn. – Bryan College and fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent, Union College (Ky.) met Wednesday afternoon for doubleheader action in a key matchup as the Lions hold down the No. 1 spot in the AAC standings with the Bulldogs right on their tail. Bryan entered the day undefeated in conference play at a perfect 8-0, while Union was also spotless at 6-0. In game one, the Bulldogs held the Lions to only three hits and Bryan's Sydney West (SO/White House, Tenn.) didn't make things any easier for Union as she hurled a complete game shutout, surrendering just four hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Fortunately, two of Bryan's hits were strung together in the bottom of the fourth for one run, which proved good enough to top Union for a 1-0 final. The Lions were the first to strike in game two with a pair of runs in the fourth. The Bulldogs countered with three runs in the fifth to put the pressure on Bryan to score through the next three innings. After two scoreless frames, the Lions notched a clutch run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. Both sides were silenced in the eighth and ninth innings, but a double and an error allowed Union to score in the 10th. The Lions successfully advanced a runner to third in the bottom of the frame, but they couldn't capitalize as a line out and ground out retired their at-bat and ended the game to complete the split.
Bryan improved to 15-13 overall and 9-1 in conference, while Union moved their overall record to 19-20 and AAC record to 7-1.
As game one got underway, the Lions were unable to tally a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning when Olivia Gore (SR/Cookeville, Tenn.) delivered a leadoff single to left, followed by a singled to right by Becca Zimmerman (SR/Naples, Fla.). Shelby Ralston (FR/Dalton, Ga.) took over base-running duties for Gore and used her speed on the next play to take scoring position at third when Hannah O'Shields (SO/LaFayette, Ga.) hit into a fielder's choice. But the play wasn't over as a Bulldog made an error by bobbling the ball, allowing Ralston to sprint home for the winning run.
O'Shields singled to left in the bottom of the sixth for Bryan's only other hit of the game, while West gave up only two hits for the rest of the contest to earn her seventh win from the circle this season.
Game two was another low scoring game and came in just a few innings as the Lions jumped on the board first in the bottom of the fourth. Gore led off with a single up the middle before advancing to second off a bunt laid down by Zimmerman. Ralston entered to pinch run for Gore at second and took third when O'Shields crushed a double to left on a 2-1 count. Ralston saw the first pitch to Aubrie Osborne (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) pass the catcher, and she took advantage by scoring and O'Shields filling in at third. Osborne fouled the next two pitches before connecting on an RBI single to center, scoring O'Shields and giving Bryan a 2-0 lead.
All of Union's three runs through the first seven innings came in the top of the fifth when they rallied behind a hit-by-pitch, walk, and single to score their first run. An error by Bryan on the single allowed another runner to come in and score, tying the game 2-2. The Bulldogs drove a long sacrifice fly to left, scoring the runner from third to take over the lead 3-2.
The Lions entered the bottom of the seventh needing to score, and they did just that. Kim Borowski (SR/Apopka, Fla.) singled to left and was trailed by Gore who smoked a single to left, putting runners on first and second with one out. Zimmerman stepped up to the plate and showed patience as she was walked, which loaded the bases. Once again, O'Shields came through with a significant sac-fly hit to center, allowing Borowski to score and level the game 3-3.
As the game went into extras, neither side could capitalize until the top of the 10th when a groundout allowed the Bulldog who started at second to take scoring position at third. The game-deciding run was brought in when Union doubled to deep right-center for a 4-3 final.
Courtney Petty (FR/Lebanon, Tenn.) tossed all 10 innings for Bryan, surrendering nine hits, four runs with only one earned, three walks, and four strikeouts. For the game, the Bulldogs had a 9-8 edge over the Lions in hits. Three of Bryan's hits came from Gore who led the team. The only other person with a multi-hit performance was Borowski, finishing 2-of-5 with one run scored. Heidi Smith (FR/Cookeville, Tenn.), O'Shields, and Osborne ended with one hit apiece. O'Shields and Osborne had the team's only RBIs with one each, while O'Shields also scored a run and doubled for the only extra-base hit for the Lions.
Bryan has a busy weekend ahead as they travel to Tennessee Wesleyan University on Friday, Mar. 31, for an AAC twinbill that's slated to start at 2pm, followed by a meeting at No. 5 Georgia Gwinnett College on Saturday, Apr. 1, with the first pitch scheduled for 2pm.
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