BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Nick Mira hit a pair of home runs and Cumberland scored six times in the bottom of the eighth, overcoming a big inning by the University of Pikeville to post a 12-9 victory in the first round of the Mid-South Conference Baseball Championships here Thursday afternoon at Bowling Green Ballpark.
The Phoenix (33-17) advance to take on 21st-ranked Campbellsville University in the second round Friday at Noon CT.
Two-run homers by Jared Schmidt and Mira helped the Phoenix overcome a 4-0 deficit and Mira’s towering solo blast in the bottom of the seventh put Cumberland ahead for the first time in the contest, 5-4. Rayden Sierra’s RBI double later in the inning made it 6-4 CU, but the Bears answered with a five-run eighth inning.
Two-run singles by Nelson Muniz and Matt Peterson capped the five-run frame for Pikeville (26-22), but the Phoenix came right back as well.
Schmidt started the six-run inning with a walk and Hector Morales and Jordan Hunt followed with singles. Schmidt scored on a wild pitch and Wheatley looped a single over the second baseman’s head, plating a run.
Mira then doubled just inside the first base bag into the rightfield corner, plating a pair of runs to give Cumberland a 10-9 edge. Rayden Sierra’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Mykel Gordon stretched the lead to 12-9.
Blake Young (5-1) got the final three outs, though not without the help of two outstanding plays from Carlos Moseley, who made a tremendous diving stop on a ground ball by Luke Hartlage. The junior then ran down a short fly ball down the rightfield line off the bat Alex Barba to end the contest.
Young allowed two runs on two hits in 1.2 innings but still got the victory. Travis Dohr started and worked 4.1 innings for CU, giving up four runs on five hits before giving way to Andy Garretson. The righthander kept the Phoenix in the contest with three strong innings of relief before running into trouble in the eighth. He allowed three runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
Pikeville starter Bruce Bell pitched very well for six innings, giving up just the two home runs. The righthander allowed six hits and struck out nine in 6.2 innings. Brandon Sewell (3-1) took the loss for the Bears, allowing three runs on three hits without getting an out in the eighth innings.
Mira finished 4-for-5 with five RBIs while Moseley and Sierra added two RBIs and Schmidt and Hunt both scored twice for the Phoenix.
Matt Peterson and Jay Vincent both posted three hits and scored twice for UPike.
The Bears got on the board first with a pair of runs in the second inning, starting with leadoff singles from Peterson and Vincent. Jorge Perez bunted and Dohr’s throw to third was just late, loading the bases with no outs.
With one out Hartlage hit a slow roller to deep short. Cumberland got the out at second but Moseley’s throw to first sailed high and went off the screen in front of the CU dugout, allowing two runs to come across.
Pikeville added two more runs in the fourth, again with Peterson and Vincent starting the rally.
Peterson’s high chopper bounced over the head of Moseley and hustle out of the box turned the base hit into a double. Vincent followed with a single to right and Perez was hit, loading the bases again with no outs.
Travis Haen’s one-hopper up the middle, snagged by Morales for an out, plated a run, and Barba walked with two outs, loading the bases again. Luke Lubiniecki struck out but a breaking ball in the dirt got away from Mira, allowing another run to come across to a 4-0 UPike advantage.
Sierra was hit to leadoff the bottom of the inning for the Phoenix and with two outs, Schmidt launched a two-run homer to left, his eighth of the season, cutting the deficit in half.
The Bears threatened again in the fifth with a Muniz walk and a one-out single by Vincent, ending the day for Dohr, but Garretson came in to get a strikeout and a popout to end the inning.
Hunt was hit to leadoff the bottom of the frame and with one out, Mira’s line drive just cleared the 12-foot wall in rightfield, knotting the contest at four.
Mira put the Phoenix ahead for the first time in the contest in the seventh, tomahawking a high fastball over the wall in right for a solo homer. Moseley then chopped a single up the middle and Sierra drilled a double down the leftfield line. Pinch-runner Nathan Vaughn raced around to score, giving Cumberland a 6-4 advantage.
The Bears came right back in the eighth, starting with single by Perez, who went to second on an errant pickoff attempt by Garretson. He moved to third on a groundout by Haen and scored on a pinch-hit single from Lucas Bault, pulling UPike within a run.
Barba then singled to left, ending the day for Garretson, and Young got a fly ball for the second out of the inning, but the lefthander hit Jacob Alvarado, loading the bases. Muniz dumped a soft single into left, in front of a diving Hunt, scoring two runs, and Peterson followed with a two-run single to leftcenter, giving Pikeville a 9-6 lead.