LEBANON, Tenn. – Mike Mandarino hit a three-run homer, one of his three hits in the contest, T.J. Murphy added three hits and scored twice and Aaron Wilkerson tossed his fifth complete game of the season, allowing one run on four hits in 10th-ranked Cumberland’s 8-1 victory over Martin Methodist on Saturday at Ernest L. Stockton Field.
Cumberland (33-12, 12-4 TranSouth) won for the 14th time in 15 games and inched closer to the top of the league standing., with the top three clubs all holding four losses in conference play. The Bulldogs and RedHawks (22-17, 14-5) conclude the series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader Sunday.
Cumberland scored seven runs on just three hits in the first four innings of the contest, taking advantage of eight walks from MMC starter Shane Murli. The first two runs were both unearned after a pair of RedHawks errors in the second inning and two more scored in the third on a walk and a groundout. Mandarino’s three-run blast into the teeth of a strong wind in the fourth inning gave the Bulldogs a comfortable lead.
Wilkerson (9-0) took full advantage of the run support, retiring 18 of the final 21 batters of the game, including 12 straight in the middle innings. The righthander walked three, struck out seven and induced a pair of doubleplays to work around two of his walks.
He won his 23rd straight decision dating to February 28, 2010, tying for the seventh-longest winning streak in college baseball history.
Murphy and Mandarino combined for six of CU’s seven hits in the contest, with Tommy Winegardner’s RBI double in the sixth inning the other hit. Mandarino was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts.
Murli (2-2) allowed eight runs on six hits in 5.1 innings, walking eight and striking out three in just his third start of the season. Travis Garcia drove in the only run of the game for MMC with a single in the third inning.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the first inning courtesy of three walks from Murli, but were unable to push a run across.
CU took advantage of a pair of MMC errors in the second inning after a leadoff walk to David Fanshawe. Jesse Bowman’a sacrifice bunt was thrown away by Murli, pushing runners to second and third with no outs. The next two batters struck out, but Murphy’s infield single to the rightside plated a run and an overthrow by Justin McQueen allowed Bowman to score for a 2-0 Bulldog edge.
McQueen led off the third inning with a single for the RedHawks and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rob Holley. Garcia’s two-out single to center plated the run, cutting the deficit in half. Tony Allen’s deep fly ball to rightcenter looked to put MMC ahead, but Cory Farris robbed him of a home run with a great catch just over the wall.
Cumberland added two runs in the bottom of the inning, again with some wildness from Murli.
Farris walked with one out and Tommy Crews was hit before Fanshawe’s second walk loaded the bases. Bowman also walked, forcing in a run, and Antonio Butler’s bunt down the first base line plated a run for a 4-1 CU advantage.
The Bulldogs cashed in again on Murli’s wildness with three more runs in the fourth.
Murphy singled to leadoff and Winegardner drew a walk before Mandarino crushed a pitch into the teeth of the wind in leftcenter, over the wall for his 11th home run of the season and a 7-1 Cumberland lead.
In the sixth Murphy tripled to deep rightcenter, just off the glove of Allen, and Winegardner followed with an RBI double down the leftfield line.