|Union City rights fortunes with better artillery in duels |
|Posted: Monday, July 7, 2008 4:37 pm |
Barely a week after bottoming out, the Union City Greyhounds have seemingly righted their ship.
Union City Greyhounds’ designated hitter Ace Williams scores on a wild pitch during his team’s defeat Sunday night against the Tradewater Pirates.
The Greyhounds — a season-worst four games under .500 and seven games out of first place 10 days ago — took three of four games from the Kitty League’s top two teams in a pair of two-game sets over the holiday weekend.
UC edged rival Fulton in a pair of 2-1 pitching duels on Thursday and Friday at Elam Stadium, then trumped league-leading Tradewater 3-2 on Saturday before seeing their five-game winning streak snapped in an 8-3 loss to the Pirates on Sunday.
The ‘Hounds are now 17-17 with the regular season two-thirds over and six games out of first and in fourth place in the six-team league.
The ’Hounds will conclude a seven-game homestand with a three-game series vs. Marion tonight through Wednesday. Each of those contests will begin at 7:05.
Stellar starting pitching has been the major reason for Union City’s recent resurgence with timely hitting and bullpen stopper Spencer Clifft also a big part of the winning mix.
Staff ace Drew Hayes fanned 12 and got a measure of revenge for an earlier loss against Fulton’s best, Corey White, as the Greyhounds edged the Railroaders on Thursday.
Friday, Patrick Schwatz did not allow an earned run in eight innings before Trey Horn made a winner of Clifft in relief by dashing home with the deciding run on a wild pitch as UC edged its Ken-Tenn neighbor by an identical score.
Saturday night it was Jud Stoltz’s turn to shine on the hill as he went seven innings with just one earned run allowed before Horn stroked his third hit of the game to break a 2-all tie in the seventh that resulted in a 3-2 victory vs. Tradewater.
Clifft, the former Huntingdon prep standout, has been in the middle — or more accurately at the end — of each Greyhound victory as he’s saved four of the six victories and gotten the win in another game.
UC manager Jonathan Estes confirmed his team’s shut-down pitching staff has been the ignitor of the club’s recent hot streak.
“We’ve talked all season about establishing and pounding the strike zone early in the count, and that’s what all our pitchers have been doing,” Estes said after Saturday’s win against Tradewater. “Tonight, it was Stoltz. He got ahead early in the count with his fastball and was then able to throw his off-speed pitch for a strike. That keeps opposing batters guessing.”
Estes admitted, too, his club’s sweep of the league’s top two teams was more meaningful than other wins.
“They were big wins because they came against Fulton and Tradewater, sure, but they were just as important because we don’t have that many more games left in the regular season and the best way to make up ground against the teams that are ahead of you is to beat them head-to-head,” he claimed.
On Sunday, the Pirates ended UC’s winning ways as Tanner Hall went 3-for-4 and drove home three runs to beat Justin DeVoe.
Union City 2, Fulton 1
The much-anticipated return marquee matchup pitting Hayes, the ex-McKenzie star and current Vanderbilt hurler, against ex-South Fulton schoolboy standout and Cleveland Indians’ draftee Cory White was every bit as good as expected.
This time, though, Hayes (2-1) — who dropped a 2-0 decision to White and the Railroaders two weeks ago — came out on top with eight brilliant innings of four-hit baseball with 12 K’s. Clifft tossed a perfect ninth to notch the save.
White (2-2), whose earned run average remained microscopic at 1.07, gave up seven hits and three walks while fanning five in 62/3 innings.
UC plated single runs in the first and second with Ace Williams scoring the first and Cam Strang the second.
Luke Putnam and Ryan O’Gara had two hits apiece for the Greyhounds.
Union City 2, Fulton 1
After Luke Putnam scored via an error in the top of the ninth to even the count for the Railroaders, Horn singled, moved to third on another hit by Justin Miller, then raced home when Clay Tingley uncorked a wild pitch.
UC’s Schatz and Fulton starter Jacob Donze were both brilliant, though neither got a decision. Schatz allowed just five singles and one walk while striking out four in eight innings.
Clifft (2-1) got credit for the pitching victory.
Union City 3, Tradewater 2
Stultz improved his personal mark to 2-3 by fanning six and scattering seven hits in seven frames. The Pirates pushed across an unearned run in the top of the seventh that tied the score, but he recorded the last of his strikeouts vs. Nathan Wright with two runners aboard.
Horn then plated the deciding tally when he drove home Logan Hostetler, who’d singled to start the bottom of the inning.
Clifft, who now has seven of the team’s eight saves, wiggled out of trouble to close things out when he got Matt Kubalkli looking with two aboard.
Tradewater 8, Union City 3
Hayes had three hits in five trips and Miller and Williams each collected two base knocks despite the locals’ loss.
DeVoe, who remained winless in four tries, gave up five runs (four earned) in six innings.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.