Huntington, Ind. - They say three’s a charm and the Forester baseball team (23-24) proved that true with a 2-1 win over third-seed Union University (TN) in the first elimination game of the 2011 NAIA National Championship Opening Round Friday afternoon. HU dropped a pair of games, 3-1 and 1-0, to the Bulldogs back in February.
With both team combining for only 12 hits, it was a pitcher’s dual in which HU’s ace in the hole Mitch Bowers won the battle. In 7.2 innings of work, he allowed one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out three to log his ninth win of the season. Brian Kirschbaum pitched 1.1 innings of hitless relief to pick up the save.
Offensively, the Foresters wasted no time finding home plate. After Adam Christner got hit by a pitch and stole his way to third, Eric Schultz doubled him in to give HU an early 1-0 lead after their first at-bats.
The next four innings were relatively quiet as neither team was able to generate much offense but Huntington finally changed all that in the sixth. After reaching first on a fielder’s choice, Schultz scampered all the way to third on a passed ball and then cruised home on a wild pitch to score what would prove to be the game-winning run.
The Bulldogs didn’t going down without a fight. With two outs in the eighth, they scored their first run of the game and had the tying run in scoring position but would get no closer as Kirschbaum maneuvered his way out the inning and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to oust the Bulldogs from the tourney.
Schultz proved to be the offensive catalyst for the Foresters, scoring a run and knocking in another. Ayers finished with a pair of hits.