LEBANON, Tenn. – Curtis Hoppe battled through seven innings on the mound and Cumberland plated five runs with the aid of just one hit in the fourth inning in posting a 5-2 victory over Taylor University on Wednesday in the NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round in Upland, Ind.
Cumberland plays again at 2:30 p.m. CT against seventh-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan in the team’s third straight elimination game.
The Phoenix (36-20) plated five runs in the fourth inning thanks to five walks, a hit batter, a single and a sacrifice fly. Jared Schmidt’s RBI single tied the game at one and free passes to Hector Morales, Jordan Hunt and Peyton Wheatley all forced in runs before a sac fly by Nick Mira put Cumberland ahead, 4-1.
Hoppe (7-3) did the rest from there, allowing just one hit but struggling with his control, walking eight and striking out eight in seven innings. The senior righthander gave up the lone hit and run in the first inning and then worked around his control issues, walking two in the second and fourth innings and hitting a batter and allowing a walk in the seventh when the Trojans (44-16) scored their second run on a wild pitch.
Monty Stevens picked up his second save of the year with two scoreless innings of relief, giving up one hit and one walk.
Taylor starter Clay Riggins (7-2) allowed four runs on one hit with two walks and three strikeouts in 3.1 innings. Riggins and Trojans reliever Mitch Ubelhor combined to walk five, hit a batter and give up one base hit and a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning against the Phoenix.
Taylor got on the board first when Josh Lane walked with one out in the first inning and stole second. He scored on a two-out single to left by Tanner Watson, the only hit for the Trojans until a two-out double in the ninth by Wyatt Whitman.
Cumberland has one baserunner against Riggins in the first three innings, that on an error in the first, and Carlos Moseley struck out to start the fourth before a walk to Rayden Sierra followed by a pair of wild pitches.
Mykel Gordon was hit before Schmidt’s RBI single through the right side knotted the contest at one. Caleb Kellogg then walked, ending the day for Riggins, but Ubelhor could not find the zone either, walking Morales, Hunt and Wheatley to force in three runs. Mira’s sac fly to left plated Morales for a 5-1 CU advantage.
The Trojans got a pair of walks with one out in the second against Hoppe, but Brian Fields bounced into an inning-ending 5-4-3 doubleplay. The first two batters two free passes for Taylor in the fourth, but Hoppe got a strikeout and two fly balls to end that threat.
Brett Lawson was hit and went to second on a wild pitch to leadoff the seventh for the Trojans and pinch-hitter Austin Mettica followed with a walk, but a strikeout and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with two outs. Hoppe uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Lawson to score, but Nathan Targgart flied out to right to end the frame with no further damage.