LEBANON, Tenn. – Seventh-ranked Georgia Gwinnett plated six runs in the sixth inning, the last four on a grand slam by Brody Wofford, breaking open a tie game en route to a 15-5 victory over Cumberland in baseball action here Wednesday at Ernest L. Stockton Field-Woody Hunt Stadium.
The Phoenix (17-9) tied the contest at three with an RBI single from Eddie McDaniels and a sacrifice fly by Bentley Jones, but the Grizzlies (21-7) answered with the six-run sixth on just two hits.
Cam Coursey walked and Gabe Austin was hit before an RBI single to left from Cord Johnson. Ali LaPread’s liner was caught by a sliding Peyton Wheatley in centerfield for the second out, ending the day on the mound for CU starter Cristian Straub.
C.J. Ballard’s liner to short against reliever Blake Young went between the legs of Jose Vera, allowing a run to come across. After an intentional walk to Nick Tanner, who homered earlier in the game, Wofford belted a hanging breaking ball over the fence in rightfield for a grand slam and a 9-3 GGC advantage.
The outburst from Gwinnett made a winner of Pedro Garcia (2-1), who allowed three runs on five hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out five. Alex Kliphouse tossed the final four innings for his fourth save, giving up three runs on four hits with two strikeouts.
Straub battled through 5.2 innings, allowing six runs, three earned, on just four hits. The righthander walked six, hit two batters and struck out four, getting in-and-out of trouble in every inning and inducing a pair of ground ball doubleplays to help his cause.
McDaniels finished 3-for-5 with one RBI and two runs scored and Bentley Jones collected two hits. Kyle Blackwell drove in two runs and hit a solo homer for CU.
McDaniels singled to leftcenter to leadoff the first inning and Bentley Jones bounced a single over the third base bag. Vera then singled sharply to left, loading the bases, and a walk to Blackwell forced in a run. Garcia got out of the jam without any further damage thanks to a strikeout and a 4-6-3 doubleplay.
The Grizzlies got on the board in the third when Johnson walked to start the frame and moved to second on a wild pitch. LaPread singled to left, plating the run, but Straub got a pair of strikeouts to end the inning after Gwinnett moved the runner to second with a sac bunt.
GGC took the lead on a weird play in the fourth inning, which began with a walk to Nick Barnes, who moved to second on a sac bunt by Coursey. With two outs Austin popped to first and the ball broke the webbing of Jacob Herrera’s glove at first base. Austin reached on what the umpires deemed catcher’s interference on a backswing and Barnes was running on the play, scoring for a 2-1 Grizzlies edge.
Tanner’s solo homer to left, his first one of the year, with one out in the fifth extended the lead to 3-1.
Cumberland took advantage of a mistake by the Grizzlies to even the game in the bottom of the frame.
Wheatley drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a wild pitch. With one out McDaniels singled to center, plating the run. The throw to the plate was high, allowing McDaniels to take second, and then the throw got away and McDaniels reached third when no one was covering the bag. Bentley Jones scored McDaniels with a sacrifice fly to center.
Gwinnett broke the game open in the sixth and added to its lead in the last three frames.
Austin doubled with two outs in the seventh and Johnson dumped an RBI single into short rightcenter. LaPread’s single off the end of the bat to short center put runners on the corners. LaPread stole second and the throw hit off the glove of Bo Saunders and bounced away, allowing Johnson to come across.
Saunders and McDaniels both reached on infield singles with two outs in the bottom of the inning and a double to deep left by Jones plated a run, but that was all for the Phoenix.
Pinch-hitter Livingston Morris singled to start the eighth for GGC and Wofford singled to right, taking second on a high throw to third. Coursey walked with one out and Brenton Burgess followed with a two-run single to left.
Blackwell’s solo homer to right, his first of the year, in the bottom of the inning was the final run for CU.
Pinch-hitter Alex Garland was hit in the ninth and pinch-hitter Brandon Robinson drilled a two-run homer down the leftfield line for the final runs of the game.
Cumberland begins a three-game Mid-South Conference series this Friday at Lindsey Wilson at 3 p.m.