JACKSON, Tenn. – Tommy Winegardner and Mike Mandarino both homered and fourth-ranked Cumberland scored two insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, posting a 9-3 victory over Freed-Hardeman here at Fesmire Field on Thursday in the loser’s bracket of the TranSouth Championships.
Cumberland advances to play at 3:30 p.m. on Friday against either Union University, Trevecca Nazarene or Martin Methodist. The Bulldog (43-13) started sluggishly again, falling behind three times before Winegardner’s three-run homer in the fifth put CU ahead for good.
Aaron Wilkerson (12-0) won his 26th consecutive decision, tossing six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. The righthander walked two and struck out seven, throwing 113 pitches.
Daniel Kern got the final nine outs for his second save of the season, throwing just 22 pitches and striking out two.
The Lions scored single runs in the first, third and fifth innings, stealing six total bases in the game. The thefts set up all three of FHU’s runs, including three from Kyle Dearing.
David Fanshawe added a two-run single in the seventh for the Bulldogs and an RBI single from Cory Farris and a sacrifice fly by Tommy Crews plated two more runs in the eighth. Mandarino had a sac fly in the first inning and a solo homer in the third, while T.J. Murphy collected two hits and scored three times for Cumberland.
FHU starter Andy Southard (3-5) took the loss, working five innings and giving up five runs on five hits. He walked four, hit a batter, tossed three wild pitches and struck out four.
The Lions scored a single run in the first to take an early lead after a leadoff single from Dearing, who stole second and third. Evan Mansell doubled to leftcenter with two outs for a 1-0 FHU edge.
CU tied the contest with a run in the bottom of the first but ran themselves out of the inning.
Greg Appleton and Murphy led off with a singles and Appleton moved to third on a wild pitch. The next pitch was also in the dirt and Murphy broke for second, but FHU catcher Leamond Arthur threw to second and Murphy got in a run-down. After two throws Appleton broke for home and was thrown out on a good throw from Mansell.
Winegardner walked and both runners moved up on a wild pitch before a sacrifice fly from Mandarino tied the contest at one.
The Lions stole another run in the third, with Tyler Wilson leading off with a single and stealing second and third. Justin Mackey’s single to left gave FHU a 2-1 lead, but it was short-lived.
Mandarino tied the contest with a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the inning, his TranSouth Conference-leading 16th of the season. He was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts.
A two-out walk to Dearing in the fifth turned into another run for Freed-Hardeman.
Dearing stole second and scored on a ground ball single through the middle from Mackey for a 3-2 FHU advantage.
Cumberland answered for the third time in the game, scoring three times in the bottom of the inning and following the Lions blueprint.
Antonio Butler led off with a single and stole second. Murphy was hit with one out and the runners executed the double steal perfectly before Winegardner lined a 2-0 pitch the other way, just inside the rightfield foul pole and over the wall for his seventh homer of the season and a 5-3 lead.
In the seventh Farris was hit and Crews doubled to leftcenter. Fanshawe fouled a pitch hard off his in-step but after some recovery time, he hit a long single off the leftfield wall, plating both runners.
Appleton and Murphy led off the eighth with singles and Mandarino reached on an infield single, loading the bases. Farris’ infield single scored a run and Crews lined out to deep center, pushing across the final run of the game.