Sprague's complete game leads 8-0 victory
JOLIET, Ill. – Adam Sprague tossed a complete game shutout and the bottom three in the lineup – Max Kautz, T.J. Murphy and Dave Weyer – combined for seven hits and five runs scored in second-ranked Cumberland 8-0 victory over Robert Morris University Tuesday night here at Silver Cross Field in the first game of the NAIA Championship Opening Round.
With the victory Cumberland (51-9) advances to play 21st-ranked Campbellsville University Wednesday at 3 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game. The Bulldogs and Tigers split two meetings earlier this season with each team winning at home.
Cumberland scored in four of the first five innings, taking a 6-0 lead and providing plenty of run support for Sprague (7-2), who scattered 10 hits, walked two and struck out eight for his fourth consecutive victory on the mound.
The Golden Eagles (41-17) had at least one baserunner in all but one inning, but Sprague worked out of two bases loaded jams and induced a pair of doubleplay balls to keep Robert Morris off the scoreboard.
Weyer, the Oak Lawn, Ill., native playing in front of family and friends, collected three hits and scored twice, while Kautz and Murphy both recorded two hits and Kautz scored twice. Greg Appleton added two hits and three RBIs, while Kris Miller had two RBIs and Troy Frazier posted two hits as well in CU’s 13-hit attack.
RMU starter Pat Devereux (7-3) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings. Three Eagles relievers gave up three runs on six hits in 4.2 innings.
The Bulldogs got off to a good start with a run in the first, thanks to a miscue by the Eagles.
Sam Kikla singled with one out and moved to second on a groundout by Matt Greener. Miller grounded to short, but Sal Bolanos’ throw to first pulled Gary Bjorklund off the bag, allowing Frazier to line an RBI single into leftfield for a 1-0 CU advantage.
The Eagles looked to tie the game in the second after a two-out single from Jawanza Young. Joe DeCeault doubled into rightcenter, but Miller cut the ball off before it got to the wall, made a strong throw to Murphy, and Murphy’s throw to the plate nailed Young to keep the Bulldogs in the lead.
CU added to its lead in the third after Appleton was hit to leadoff the inning. He moved to second on a groundout by Greener and scored on Miller’s two-out single to left.
Cumberland plated three more runs in the fourth, chasing Devereux from the contest.
Kautz singled to leadoff and moved to second on Murphy’s sacrifice bunt. Weyer’s grounder hit DeCeault in the chest for a single, and the runners executed the double steal.
Appleton’s sharp single to leftcenter plated one run and Kikla walked, loading the bases. Greener was hit, scoring a run and ending the day for the RMU lefthander. Miller’s sacrifice fly to deep center pushed across Appleton for a 5-0 Bulldog advantage.
Kautz and Murphy both had infield singles and Weyer put down a perfect bunt single with one out in the fifth, loading the bases. Appleton’s sacrifice fly to left gave CU a 6-0 lead.
In the seventh Murphy chopped a single over the third baseman’s head and Weyer followed with a single to leftcenter, putting runners on the corners. Appleton’s single to right scored Murphy and moved Weyer to third, where he scored later on a wild pitch.
- CU is making its 12th appearance in the NAIA National Championship and now owns a 22-20 record in the tournament.
- Cumberland turned a of double play to end both the first and eighth innings. The twin killings were the 34th and 35th of the year for the Bulldogs and marked the second game in a row that CU has recorded a defensive double play, snapping a season-long six-game drought without a double play.
- Adam Sprague tossed a complete game, going nine innings for the first time in his career. The senior struck out eight RMU batters, two shy of his season best.
- Dave Weyer was one of five Cumberland batters with a multiple-hit game. The Oak Lawn, Ill., native had three hits in a contest for the third time this season. The game was the eighth multi-hit outing of the season for Weyer. Troy Frazier (24th multi-hit game), Max Kautz (16th), Greg Appleton (17th) and T.J. Murphy (7th) also had two hits in the game.
- Appleton drove in three runs, marking the 15th time this year that the Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, native has had multiple RBIs in a game. Kris Miller had his 21st multi-RBI day.
- With a run in the first inning, Sam Kikla moved into a tie for third on Cumberland’s single-season list for runs scored. The Malabar, Fla., native has scored 85 of CU’s runs this year and trails only Randy Stegall and Chuck MacFarlane, who each scored 87 times in a season.
- The Bulldogs scored in the first inning for the 31st time this year and improved to 29-2 when scoring in the opening frame and 37-3 when scoring first.
- Kautz, Weyer and Appleton each had a stolen base in the fourth inning, the team’s 65th, 66th and 67th of the year.
- Matt Greener was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, driving in his 89th run of the year and moving the Jupiter, Fla., native into a tie for second place on CU’s single-season RBI list.