JACKSON, Tenn. – Cumberland’s Antonio Butler collected four hits and scored twice and Devin Stovall tossed 5.2 innings of relief for the win, running into trouble in the ninth but hanging on for an 8-7 victory over Martin Methodist here at Fesmire Field on Wednesday afternoon in the TranSouth Championships.
With the victory the Bulldogs (32-25) advance to play Blue Mountain on Wednesday evening in another elimination game. The winner of tonight’s game plays Union University at Noon on Thursday and must beat the home team twice to win the tournament.
Butler posted his second four-hit game of the season, both in the last three weeks, and collected a pair of triples, scoring twice. Cumberland used a four-run fifth inning to take the lead for good and added two more runs in the seventh for an 8-4 lead.
Martin Methodist (31-24) scored three times in the ninth inning on an RBI single from Matt Thomas and a two-run double by Nick Flanagan, but Zack Jordan flied out to end the game.
Stovall (4-4) was dominant for five innings before running into trouble in the ninth. The righthander allowed three runs on six hits, walking one with five strikeouts. CU started Keith Kirby lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up four runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Richie Seaton added three hits for the Bulldogs, but the big blow was a three-run homer by Mike Mandarino to cap the four-run fifth inning, Mandarino’s 16th of the year.
Clint Gobbell led off the game with a line drive homer that just cleared the wall in leftfield, his eighth of the season, giving the RedHawks an early lead.
Matt Franklin singled with two outs in the second and Justin McQueen walked before Gobbell chopped a single back through the middle, plating a run for a 2-0 MMC edge.
Nick Sydnor hit a solo homer for the Bulldogs to leadoff the third, but Martin Methodist came right back in the next inning.
Keith Tidwell led off with a single and Ryan Jett and McQueen both walked, loading the bases and ending the day for Kirby. Gobbell plated a run with a groundout to short and Jett scored on a wild pitch for a 4-1 RedHawks advantage.
Seaton singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning and scored on Cody Ferrell’s double to leftcenter.
CU took the lead in the fifth thanks to some hustle from Butler, who beat out a routine grounder to short with two outs in the inning. Cory Urquhart followed with a single to center and Sam Lind singled down the rightfield line, plating a run.
Mandarino then lifted a high fly ball to leftfield that the wind helped carry just over the wall for a three-run homer, giving the Bulldogs a 6-4 lead.
Butler led off the seventh with a single to center, stole second and went to third on an error by the catcher. After a walk to Lind, Dodson faked a pickoff to first and wheeled to third for a throw. Butler was well off the bag and probably would have been out, but the throw was high and wild and got by Franklin, allowing Butler to score.
With two outs Seaton singled to center, scoring Lind for an 8-4 advantage.
In the ninth McQueen singled with one out and Rob Holley singled with two outs before a single to center by Thomas. Flanagan then doubled to leftcenter, putting the winning run on base, but Butler squeezed the final out to help the Bulldogs play at least one more game this season.