LEBANON, Tenn. – Jacob Herrera posted three hits with a solo homer, Eddie McDaniels collected four hits and scored twice and Cumberland scored five runs in the ninth to break open a close game in a 9-4 victory over fifth-ranked University of the Cumberlands in baseball action Friday in Williamsburg, Ky.
Polo Portela gave the Phoenix (28-21, 9-7 Mid-South) a quality start the Thomas Galart got the last six outs for a save. Cumberland pounded out 15 hits against five Patriots (41-6, 10-3) hurlers, stranding 15 runners in the game, including the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings and at least one runner in 8-of-9 frames.
Portela (6-1) gave up two earned runs on six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts in seven-plus innings, inducing nine fly ball outs from the Cumberlands. He allowed more than one baserunner in an inning just twice before departing after a solo homer by Bryan Leef to leadoff the eighth inning that cut the CU lead to 4-3.
Bentley Jones plated the first Cumberland run in the fifth and Pablo Custodio grounded into a doubleplay with the bases loaded later in the frame for a 2-1 CU edge, but the Patriots knotted the contest with an unearned run in the sixth.
Peyton Wheatley was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth and McDaniels followed with an RBI single for a 4-2 Phoenix advantage.
Herrera homered with one out in the ninth, a much-needed insurance run, and the floodgates opened after that for Cumberland. Wheatley posted an RBI single and Reid Bass delivered a two-run double before an RBI groundout from LaDarius Williams concluded the scoring.
Zach Hurley (7-2) gave up two runs on eight hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in six innings for the Cumberlands. Moise Carrasco (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing two runs on one hit with one-plus inning of work.
Cumberland stranded two runners in the first inning after McDaniels singled and Williams was hit.
The Patriots got on the board first with a run in the third when Robbie Stroub doubled with two outs and Orley Arellano walked. Raudy Martinez then singled to left for a 1-0 UC edge.
Tyler Jones singled and Daulton Smith walked with two outs in the Cumberland fourth but both were stranded.
The Phoenix broke through in the fifth after McDaniels led off with a walk and stole second. He scored on Bentley Jones’ single to center and Williams and Jose Vera followed with singles, loading the bases. Custodio grounded into a 6-4-3 doubleplay, but pinch-runner Bass scored on the play for a 2-1 CU lead.
The Cumberlands tied the game in the sixth, with the rally starting on a two-out double by Jose Rojas. Bryan Benz then walked and J.C. Santos reached on a fielding error by Vera, allowing the run to come across for a 2-2 contest.
Herrera singled to leadoff the eighth for CU and Carrasco made bad throws on consecutive sacrifice bunt attempts by Bo Saunders and Smith, loading the bases. Wheatley was hit, scoring pinch-runner Kaleb Qualls, and McDaniels reached on an infield single, plating another run. Cumberland missed a chance to add to the lead with two strikeouts and a foul out to end the inning.
Leef’s homer to left to start the eighth for the Patriots ended the day for Portela and Galart gave up a walk before getting two strikeouts and a foul out.
Herrera’s homer to left started the big inning in the ninth for CU, with Saunders following with a single before a walk to Smith. Wheatley singled to left, scoring Saunders, and a McDaniels single loaded the bases.
Bass, who entered in the eighth as a defensive replacement, doubled down the leftfield line, plating two runs, and Williams grounded out to push across another.
Stroub’s one-out homer in the ninth accounted for the final run of the game.
Cumberland opens play in the Mid-South Conference Championships on Thursday in Bowling Green, Ky., against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.