Bulldogs sweep MCU to close conference play
LEBANON, Tenn. – Stephanie Gutierrez hit a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning to cap a four-run frame and give Cumberland University the lead in the second game of a doubleheader sweep of Mid-Continent University in the Bulldogs’ final TranSouth Conference series of the year Friday. CU (17-22, 6-8) picked up a 4-0 win in the opener before claiming a 9-5 come-from-behind victory in the nightcap.
The double, which came on the first pitch to the third baseman, finished off a 3-for-3 game for Gutierrez, who drove in four of the Bulldogs’ nine runs in the second game.
“I knew what she going to throw me, to be honest,” Gutierrez said of the pitch she hit to the left-center field gap. “My mindset going into the at-bat was just to act like nobody was on base because all year I know I’ve been leaving people on base because I’ve been thinking ‘I have to score them. I have to score them.’ I just went up there thinking that nobody was on base and all I had to do was just get a little base hit.”
That little base hit rolled to the fence and allowed Emily Nicholson and Meghan White to score, making the score 7-5 in favor of the home team. The inning started with CU trailing by two runs and the Cougars recorded the first out when CaSarah Gilliam flew out to right. Megan Lavery popped up a bunt that got past pitcher Kelly Fougerousse as the CU shortstop was safe at first. Allison Blackwood rolled a slow grounder to second base, but it went through Lisa Szatkowski’s legs as both runners were safe. Victoria Bennett followed with a single up the middle that scored Lavery and Nicholson hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Blackwood out at third. White’s bloop single to center plated Bennett and set up Gutierrez’s hit.
Cumberland added two more insurance runs in the sixth inning when Christina Manis and Gilliam singled to start the frame. Both runs came home when Blackwood hit another grounder to second that Szatkowski couldn’t handle.
The Cougars (12-22-1, 4-8) took the early lead, tagging CU starter Caity Gray for two runs on five hits before the Bulldogs recorded the first out of the game. Blackwood entered the game and induced a bases-loaded double play and struck out Marissa Nickerson to end the frame without allowing any more damage.
MCU added another three runs in the second inning before Cumberland got on the board for the first time in the home half of the frame. Blackwood led off the inning with a single to left-center, extending her hitting streak to six games, before Bennett doubled to left, putting runners on the corners. With one out White grounded to short and Lindsey White came home, but Blackwood’s pinch runner Autumn Collins slid in safely. Gutierrez then singled to right plating two more runs and getting the Bulldogs within two runs at 5-3.
Blackwood evened her record in the circle at 10-10 after also taking the win in the first game. The southpaw is 3-1 on the week with a 2.13 earned run average and 17 strikeouts. The Lawrence County High School product has done even more damage at the plate this week, going 12-for-22 with 11 RBIs.
Cumberland 4, Mid-Continent 0 (Game 1)
Manis, Blackwood and Bennett each had two hits in the opener as Cumberland picked up its sixth shutout of the season.
Blackwood scattered five hits and struck out six batters, including one of Jackie Lloyd, who was held hitless, snapping a 22-game hitting streak.
Manis singled to start the bottom of the first inning and swiped second, her 20th steal of the year. She was driven in on Blackwood’s two-out single to center.
CU made it 3-0 when the Bulldogs got four straight hits from Blackwood, Bennett, Nicholson and White. The latter two plated Blackwood and Bennett, respectively.
Gilliam drove in Cumberland’s fourth run with a single that scored Manis, who also reached on an infield single.
Cumberland now awaits the rest of its TranSouth foes to finish conference play to determine its seeding in the postseason tournament. The Bulldogs will finish no higher than fifth. CU travels to Lindsey Wilson College Sunday at 2 p.m. before returning to the Cedar City for its final home doubleheader next Tuesday against Lambuth University.