Wilkerson dominating in 3-0 triumph; Bulldogs headed back to Lewiston
Friday, May 21, 2010
JOLIET, Ill. – Aaron Wilkerson struck out 17 in a complete game three-hitter and Sam Kikla broke up a perfect game with a double in the seventh and later scored, as second-ranked Cumberland defeated 21st-ranked Campbellsville, 3-0, Friday morning here at Silver Cross Field in the NAIA Championship Opening Round. With the victory the Bulldogs advance to the 2010 Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, which begins next Friday.
 
Wilkerson (12-1) won his 12th consecutive decision this decision and the righthander had to match Campbellsville’s Rusty Devitt, who tossed a perfect game for six-and-a-third innings before Kikla’s double in the seventh. Matt Greener’s followed with another double, plating the first run of the game, and Troy Frazier’s single off the glove of Tigers shortstop Michael Caleb allowed pinch-runner Adam Sprague to come across with the second run of the inning.
 
Wilkerson gave up just three hits, singles in the fourth, sixth and ninth, and walked two. He worked out of one jam when Luke Gadow drew a walk and Alex Ponich singled to star the sixth, but Gadow was gunned down trying to take third and Caleb bounced into an inning-ending doubleplay.
 
Devitt (4-3) was just as good, striking out 12 and giving up just three hits. He did not walk a batter before running into trouble in the seventh.
 
Caleb blooped a single just over second baseman T.J. Murphy’s outstretched glove into rightcenter for the first hit of the game with one out in the fourth. Campbellsville’s Richie Rowland drew a leadoff walk in the fifth but his pinch-runner was left stranded at second.
 
Campbellsville had the first real threat of the game after Gadow reached on a four-pitch walk to start the sixth and Ponich fisted a single into short leftcenter. The first pitch to Caleb got underneath catcher David Fanshawe and Gadow tried to take third, but Fanshawe quickly recovered and easily erased the runner. Caleb then bounced into an inning-ending doubleplay.
 
The Bulldogs finally got to Devitt in the seventh, with the righthander starting Greg Appleton 3-and-0 before coming back to strike him out. But Kikla laced a 2-0 fastball over the centerfielder’s head for a double and Greener followed with another double off the leftfield wall on another 2-0 fastball.
 
With two outs Frazier singled through the middle, off the glove of Caleb and into short center. Sprague came around to score on the play for a 2-0 CU advantage.
 
Kikla tripled to leadoff the ninth and Greener lined out to right for a sacrifice fly, giving the Bulldogs an insurance run.
 
The bracket for the 2010 Avista-NAIA World Series will be announced by 10 p.m. CT tonight at www.naia.org. The Bulldogs will play either Friday or Saturday in the first round of the tournament.
 

Postgame notes:
  • Cumberland is headed to the NAIA World Series for the 11th time in school history. The Bulldogs have one national championship (2004) and two runner-up finishes (1995, 2006)
  • Aaron Wilkerson’s three-hit shutout was the third start of the season in which the junior has given up three hits or less. His 17 strikeouts were the most by any Cumberland pitcher this year. Wilkerson’s previous career high came against Oklahoma City University when he struck out a dozen in seven innings. The Waco, Texas, native threw a first-pitch strike to 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, retiring the first 10.
  • The first 22 batters of the game were retired in order as both pitchers carried a perfect game into at least the fourth inning. Cumberland’s first hit of the game was a one-out double by Sam Kikla in the seventh inning, which came 1:23 after the first pitch. CU’s second base hit came two minutes later when Matt Greener followed with an RBI double.
  • Cumberland recorded its fifth double play in four games, marking the second time this year that CU has notched a twin killing in four straight contests.
  • Adam Sprague pinch ran for Greener in the seventh inning and scored a run on a single by Troy Frazier. It was the first appearance of the year for Sprague on the basepaths and he became the second CU pitcher to score a run after Daniel Kern scored after pinch running against Mid-Continent University.