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Bears steal six bases, maul Generals in Mountain 7 play

Darrell Ely, Sports Correspondent • May 23, 2018 at 2:29 AM

BIG STONE GAP — Union used a solid start out of right-hander Adam Cox and swiped six bases in an 8-0 win over visiting Lee on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Mountain 7 baseball tournament at Buster Taylor Field.

The No. 3 seed Bears advanced to play No. 2 seed Central at 5 p.m. Thursday at John Battle.

Union took control in the early innings and never looked back.

J.W. Salyers’ club scored without the benefit of a hit in the opening frame. With one out, Hunter Anderson walked and stole second and third, scoring on an errant throw on his steal of third for the game’s first run.

Cox retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. The senior did not allow a hit until the Generals’ Nate Bailey lined a one-out single in the fourth.

The rally was short lived, though. The Bears promptly turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

“Adam Cox came out throwing strikes for four straight innings and mixed his pitches pretty good,” Salyers said. “We went first-to-third a few times, and it was kind of a snowball effect where the bats were heating up and guys were running everywhere.”

Union added a single run in the second on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Noah Adams before scoring three times with two outs in the third to push the game out of reach.

Designated hitter Bailey Gibson lofted a ball down the left field line and it fell just out of the reach of Hunter Shupe, allowing Mason Caldwell and Landry Baker to scamper home. A batter later, Kalen Gardner’s single plated the fifth run for Union.

Anderson scored on a wild pitch in the fourth to make it a 6-0 lead before scoring on the back end of a two-run triple by Caldwell for his team’s eighth run.

Lee managed just two hits in the season-ending loss, and the trio of Cox, Cam Bartee and Evan Hall allowed just four baserunners in the game.

Bailey struck out seven in five innings of work on the mound for Lee. He and Shupe were the only Generals to record a hit.

Anderson stole two bases and scored three runs, Caldwell finished 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBI and Gardner went 2-for-3 with a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base in the win.

Cox hurled four innings of scoreless baseball while allowing a hit, striking out three and walking one to pick up the pitching win. He finished the game with 43 pitches, making him eligible to pitch in Thursday’s semifinal contest.

A big reason for the low pitch count was the Union defense, which did not commit an error in the field during the game.

The win halted a two-game losing skid for the Bears, who had lost three of four entering the postseason.

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