JACKSON, Tenn. – Cumberland allowed nine walks and committed four errors, leading to five unearned runs, and the fourth-ranked Bulldogs dropped a 9-7 decision to Bethel University in the opening game of the TranSouth Championships here Wednesday at Fesmire Field.
Cumberland’s 16-game winning streak was snapped in the loss, which puts the Bulldogs in the loser’s bracket to face either Freed-Hardeman or Trevecca Nazarene on Thursday at Noon.
CU starter Will Locante struggled to throw strikes in the contest, walking eight in 5.2 innings, but the lefthander exited the game with a 5-2 lead and the bases loaded. The Bulldogs then errored the next three balls put into play, allowing the Wildcats to score four times and take the lead for good.
Bethel (25-20) added two runs in the seventh on Jay Lowery’s double and Cody Crocker’s two-out single plated another run in the ninth.
Cumberland (42-13) scored twice in the ninth and got the tying run to the plate, but Tommy Crews struck out and David Fanshawe grounded out to end the contest.
Mike Mandarino and Tommy Winegardner both collected three hits for the Bulldogs, while T.J. Murphy, Crews and Jesse Bowman each added a pair of hits. Cory Farris drove in two runs for CU as well. Winegardner was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts.
Jake Ramsey doubled, tripled and drove in the first two runs for the Wildcats, while Chase Pilkenton recorded two hits for BU.
Bethel starter Joey Wilder (7-2) threw 136 pitches in eight innings of work, allowing five runs on 11 hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Gavin Lindsey gave up two runs in the ninth, but got the final two outs to close out the victory for the Wildcats.
Cumberland reliever Keith Kirby (4-3) suffered the loss despite getting a pair of ground balls and a pop-up when he entered in the sixth, all of which would have ended the inning. He worked 2.1-plus innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits. Bethel got on the board first in the game thanks to a defensive miscue by the Bulldogs.
Chris Cain drew a leadoff walk in the second and Hunter DeBerry put down a sacrifice bunt, but Crews did not get to the bag in time and DeBerry beat the throw. With one out Ramsey fisted a double just inside the rightfield line, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 edge.
Cumberland came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of three free passes and an error.
Farris drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning and Crews followed with a single. Fanshawe worked a walk, loading the bases, and Farris scored on a wild pitch.
Bowman’s grounder plated another run before Antonio Butler also walked. Butler stole second and the throw bounced away from Crocker, allowing pinch-runner Daniel Harrison to come across for a 3-1 CU advantage.
Winegardner singled and Mandarino doubled to leadoff the third inning and a sacrifice fly to rightcenter from Farris plated Winegardner for a 4-1 lead.
Cain reached on a fielding error by Crews to start the Bethel fourth, stole second with two outs and scored on a triple down the rightfield line from Ramsey, cutting the Bulldog lead in half.
But Cumberland answered with a run in the bottom of the inning after a leadoff single from Bowman. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Butler and scored on T.J. Murphy’s two-out bloop double down the rightfield line.
Locante walked the bases loaded in the fifth inning, but Cain bounced into an inning-ending 4-6-3 doubleplay. Three more walks in the sixth chased Locante from the game, and three Bulldog miscues allowed the Wildcats to take the lead.
Crocker bounced to short on what looked to end the inning, but Winegardner’s flip to second sailed right past a surprised Crews and into rightfield, with two runs scoring on the play.
Craig Massey then grounded weakly to second, but Crews booted that ball, allowing another run to score, before Celtic Rush’s pop-up at the back of the dirt behind third base was misplayed by Murphy, with another run coming across for a 6-5 Bethel advantage.
In the seventh DeBerry led off with a walk and Pilkenton reached on an infield single for BU. A wild pitch moved the runners up and Lowery’s one-out double scored both for an 8-5 Wildcat advantage.
In the bottom of the ninth Murphy and Winegardner both singled and moved up on a wild pitch. Mandarino flew out to deep right, plating a run, and Farris’ grounder scored another. Farris reached when Massey’s throw sailed into the dugout, but Lindsey got the final two outs to end the contest.