LEWISTON, Idaho – Aaron Wilkerson struck out 13 and allowed just a solo homer and four hits in eight hits while David Fanshawe homered and doubled and Matt Greener added a three-run in second-ranked Cumberland’s 9-1 victory eighth-rated Embry-Riddle Saturday in the Bulldogs opening game of the 54th Annual Avista-NAIA World Series here at Harris Field.
Cumberland (54-9) advances to play sixth-ranked Oklahoma City University Monday at 5 p.m. CT in the winner’s bracket. The Bulldogs won for the 25th time in 26 games and defeated the Eagles (45-18) for the third time in four contests this season.
Wilkerson (13-1) was magnificent again, allowing just a solo homer in the fifth and tossing only 104 pitches in eight innings. The righthander was his 13th straight decision and had a 27.2 scoreless innings streak ended with Steve Sabins’ home run.
Wilkerson did not walk a batter and retired the side in order in six of the eight innings. He ran into trouble just once, in the fifth after Sabins’ leadoff home run. Aaron Glaum followed with a single, but Wilkerson got the next three batters, retiring the final 12 batters he faced in order.
Fanshawe doubled in the second and his pinch-runner, Jason Frost, scored on Dave Weyer’s sacrifice fly. Fanshawe walked and Max Kautz singled in the fourth, with Frost and Kautz both scoring later in the inning after a two-out error by ERAU second baseman J.T. Warmoth.
Fanshawe then hit a two-run homer in the fifth, giving the Bulldogs a 5-1 advantage.
Cumberland scored four runs in the eighth, capped by Greener’s 26th home run of the year, a towering drive to left that just cleared the wall for a three-run shot. Greener tied for the national lead in homers and broke CU’s single-season RBI record, breaking the mark held by Pat Sanders since 1993.
Embry-Riddle starter Justin Zinkovich (10-3) took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in seven-plus innings. The lefthander walked three and struck out three.
The Bulldogs got on the board first with a single run in the second after a one-out double from Fanshawe. An infield single by Kautz and a walk to T.J. Murphy loaded the bases for Weyer, who plated the run with a sacrifice fly to center.
CU added two more runs in the fourth, taking advantage of an ERAU miscue.
Fanshawe drew a one-out walk and Kautz followed with a shallow center to center. Frost was aggressive on the play, taking third just ahead of the throw from Mike Jutkiewicz, and Kautz moved to second on the play.
With two outs Weyer grounded to second, but Warmoth fumbled the play, allowing the run to score. Greg Appleton followed with an infield single, plating another run for a 3-0 Cumberland advantage.
Sabins hammered a solo homer to dead centerfield to start the Embry-Riddle fifth, his ninth of the season, cutting the Bulldog lead to two.
Cumberland got the run back plus one in the bottom of the inning. Troy Frazier singled with two outs before Fanshawe laced a 2-2 pitch over the wall in leftcenter, his 12th homer of the year, giving CU a 5-1 edge.
In the eighth Kautz walked to leadoff, ending the day for Zinkovich, and Murphy drew a walk. With two outs Sam Kikla singled to left, scoring Kautz, ahead of Greener’s three-run homer to left.
Daniel Kern tossed the final inning for the Bulldogs, striking out two and giving up a leadoff single.
Cumberland is now 8-3 in its 11 opening games. The Bulldogs lost their initial World Series game in 1988 to Monday night's opponent Oklahoma City, 6-4. The two teams will be playing for the sixth time in Series history on Monday. Oklahoma City holds a 3-2 advantage, but the Stars lost the 2004 championship game to Cumberland, 10-3, giving the Bulldogs their only title. Oklahoma City bounced back the next year and won its only title, defeating CU once during the tourney. OCU also defeated the Bulldogs one time in 1998 and Carson-Newman beat CU in the opening contest in 1993.
Matt Greener tied the national lead with his 26th home run of the season, a three-run shot in the eighth inning. Greener is tied with Lubbock Christian’s Richard Bohlken for the national lead.
Greener also has 94 RBIs this season with the homer, breaking Pat Sanders’ single-season record for runs driven in. Sanders had 92 RBIs during the 1993 season.
Greener’s home run moved him into a tie for third on the single-season charts with Angel Mercado (2006) and Bobbie Perna (1990) with 26. Greener trails only Mark Suarez (1997-27) and Donnie Burkhalter (2005-28) on the single-season list.
Sam Kikla scored on Greener’s home run, breaking the single-season record for runs scored. Kikla now has 88 runs scored, breaking the mark held previously by Chuck MacFarlane (2004) and Randy Stegall (1998).
Aaron Wilkerson tied the single-season wins record with the victory, a mark held by five other Bulldogs hurlers, including teammate Shawn Schaefer. Joe Fushey (1994), Kevin Hite (1996), Mike Dutton (1997) and Eddie Ortega (2004) also tallied 13 victories in a campaign previously, while Schaefer is currently 13-0 this season.
Wilkerson allowed a solo homer to leadoff the fifth inning, snapping a 27.2 inning scoreless streak that dated to the fifth inning in the April 30 contest versus Lyon College. Wilkerson allowed a run in the fifth versus the Scots and had tossed consecutive complete game shutouts versus Bethel University and Campbellsville University.
Wilkerson registered his third straight double-digit strikeout effort after collecting 11 versus Bethel and 17 against Campbellsville.
Wilkerson passed Jed Dorough (1993-106) and Chris Smith (2001-115) on the single-season strikeout list during the game. Wilkerson now has 118 strikeouts this season, three behind Steve Kline (2005-121) and 18 behind Dave Beck (2001-136) on the single-season charts.