HARDEEVILLE, S.C. – Natalie Garcia’s two-run homer put Cumberland ahead for good and Jessica Roper added a two-run shot later in an eight-run sixth inning, as the Bulldogs stayed alive with a come-from-behind 10-3 victory over Virginia Intermont here Tuesday in the NAIA Championship Opening Round.
Cumberland (37-21) must play again Tuesday evening against Spring Hill College in another elimination contest for the right to advance to Wednesday’s championship game against host South Carolina-Beaufort.
Devon Jamerson’s RBI single with one out in the sixth tied the game at three and Garcia followed with a two-run shot to rightcenter, her fifth of the year. Sydney Broderick added an RBI single before Roper’s two-run blast to rightcenter. Kaleigh Pearce added an RBI single later in the frame.
Jessica Lozano tossed 4.2 innings in a start, allowing two earned runs on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Courtney Maynard (20-10) was the beneficiary of the big inning, picking up the victory with 2.1 scoreless frames.
Bailee Packett (8-6), the second of three Cobras hurlers, took the loss, allowing five runs on three hits in 1.1 innings. VI starter Micalah Sacre gave up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts in four innings, exiting with a 3-2 lead.
Sacre led off the game with a line drive home run that cleared both fences in dead centerfield, but Lozano settled down and allowed just a single to get out of the inning with the Cobras scoring just one run.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom of the inning after a one-out walk by Megan Lavery. She went to second on a groundout by Allison Blackwood and scored on a single to left from Sydney Broderick. Roper singled and Hobbs walked later in the inning, loading the bases, but Shawnee Kirk struck out to end the frame.
In the second Pearce singled to start the frame and Lavery walked with two outs. Blackwood singled, loading the bases, but Broderick flied out to rightcenter to end the inning.
Sacre led off the third inning with a single and with two outs Rachel Cook hit a slow roller up the middle. She beat the play and the throw from Jamerson was wild. The ball rolled along the fence in foul territory between home plate and first base and Sacre just kept running on the play, making it all the way around to score for a 2-1 edge.
Hobbs belted a solo homer to leftcenter with one out in the bottom of the inning, tying the contest at two.
The Cobras re-took the lead in the fifth when Krystle Brennaman beat out an infield single up the middle with one out and stole second. She moved to third on a groundout by Hannah McCloud before Rachel Cook was hit, putting runners on the corners and prompting a pitching change.
Cook took off for second on the first pitch by Maynard but stopped midway. Pearce ran her down for the final out of the inning, but Brenneman scored before the tag, giving Virginia Intermont a 3-2 advantage.
Cumberland finally gained the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Kirk led off with a single to center and smartly moved up when Brenneman bobbled the ball in the outfield. Two batters later Jamerson singled to right, plating pinch-runner Autumn Collins to tie the contest at three.
Garcia followed with two-run homer to rightcenter, putting the Bulldogs ahead to stay, 5-3.
Lavery bunted and reached when the throw got away and Blackwood followed with a walk. Pinch-runner Courtney White stole second and the throw was tipped and rolled into centerfield, allowing Lavery to score.
Broderick blooped a single into short center, scoring White, and Roper blasted a two-run shot to deep rightcenter, her 11th of the year. Hobbs kept the inning going with a double down the leftfield line and pinch-runner Amber Mayne came across on Pearce’s infield hit for a 10-3 advantage.