(Carey Fox photo)
In Thursday's Shakamak Sectional semifinals, the Bulldogs bowed to Clay City and pitcher Andre Hayes by an 11-4 score that finished Union's season.
The victory by Hayes and the Eels came a little more than three weeks after Ryne Hayes blanked the Bulldogs in a 5-0 regular season victory for the Eels back on May 3.
Just a few days after Clay City got a no-hitter in squeezing out a 1-0 win over North Central on Memorial Day, the Eels found their hitting stroke early against Union's Logan Chesterfield.
Clay City crossed the plate four times in the first inning and scored in the first five frames on the way to the victory that propels them to the championship game tonight at 7 p.m.
"We hit the ball well tonight," said coach Ryan Swearingen. "Much better than Monday. Our fielding was a little shaky early, but we settled down and made some plays later."
Will Kennedy stepped to the plate and made sure the Eels didn't leave the inning empty handed when he lined a double to rightfield to plate Evans and Tim Shaw followed by lacing a two run single to leftfield. Up 3-0, the Eels weren't quite through as Kyler Rhodes ripped an RBI triple to the centerfield wall to give Hayes a 4-0 lead.
"It always helps when your hitting the ball like that," said Swearingen of his team's early offense.
Union came back to tally two runs of their own in their half of the first taking advantage of three Clay City errors in the inning and four singles off Hayes. But from there he would settle in against the Bulldogs.
With the top of their lineup back to the plate to start the second inning, the Eels kept the pressure on as Kearney singled with one out and moved to second on an error. After Evans flied out, Ben Dickey followed with an RBI single and stole second to set the plate for Andre Hayes to help his own cause.
Andre Hayes chops the ball into ground during an at-bat in Thursday's sectional. Hayes would end up safe on a throwing error.
Hayes stepped up and singled to drive home the Eels' sixth run of the game.
Clay City would effectively put the game out of reach the next inning by scoring another three runs.
Shaw led off with a double and scored after a pickoff throw sailed into centerfield. The throw back to third base was wild as well allowing the run to score. With one out, Austin Vansickle reached on a throwing error to first base and Kearney drove him home with an RBI double and later scored on a wildpitch.
With a 9-1 lead, Hayes went to work against Union and, while allowing 14 hits in the contest, gave the Eels exactly what they needed. A complete game pitching effort.
"(Andre) did a good job tonight keeping (Union) off balance. It's always good to be able to save your pitchers," said Swearingen. "We've got Tim Shaw and Ryne Hayes available tomorrow."
Hayes struckout six batters in the game in picking up the victory while giving up just one walk.
At the plate, Kearney had three hits and drove in a run and Shaw added a 3-for-3 night with two RBIs and two runs scored. Dickey had two RBIs along with Kennedy.
Class A Shakamak Sectional
2B - CC (Kearney, Kennedy), UN (Talpas). 3B - CC (Rhodes).