Home run heroics lead Bulldogs to sweep
LEBANON, Tenn. – Sam Kikla hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning in the opener and added a three-run shot in the second game and Adam Sprague picked up a win and a save in relief, as Cumberland swept a doubleheader against 18th-ranked Trevecca, 7-5 and 8-6, Saturday at Ernest L. Stockton Field.
Kikla’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th would not have been possible without a game-tying three-run shot from CU’s Eric Mull in the bottom of the eighth. The fifth-year senior hit a hanging breaking ball over the leftfield wall, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and setting up Kikla’s extra-inning game-clincher in the opener.
Cumberland (24-15, 12-3) scored six runs in the third inning and made it hold up in the second contest, with Kikla’s three-run homer the final blow in the big inning.
Sprague (4-3) was masterful in two relief outings, tossing five scoreless innings and allowing just one run with four strikeouts. The lefthander worked 3.2 hitless frames in the opener, picking up the victory, and gave up an infield hit and struck out three in 1.1 innings for the save in the second contest.
Kikla posted a pair of hits in each game and drove in five runs altogether, while Max Kautz scored four times. Tyler Fisher and Kyle West both collected two hits in the second game, including West’s two-run double in the six-run third inning.
CU’s Richard Timbrook (7-1) struggled but battled through the second contest to pick up the win, allowing six runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He walked four and struck out six.
Trevecca’s Ben Johnson (5-1) took the loss, giving up eight runs on eight hits with four walks in 2.1 innings.
Neither starter figured in the decision in the opener. CU’s Robert Post allowed two earned runs on four hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out seven. TNU’s Tim Dunn gave up four earned runs on five hits in 7.2 innings, walking five and striking out eight.
Dunn’s day ended after Mull’s three-run shot to tie the game. Both hurlers were dominant for stretches, with Post retiring nine straight at one point and Dunn setting down eight of nine after allowing a leadoff homer in the first.
Drew Durossette (1-5) took the loss in the contest, giving up two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings. Durossette also tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in the second game, allowing just one hit.
Kautz hit the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning of the opener over the leftfield wall, his fourth of the season, for a quick 1-0 lead for the Bulldogs.
Trevecca tied the game in the third after a one-out single from Ross Muirhead. Marty Parks then lined to leftfield, where Michael Wheeler caught the ball and then dropped it, allowing Parks to reach, though Wheeler did get the force at second.
Parks stole second and scored on a two-out single through the middle from Chris Lowe.
The Trojans took the lead in the seventh after a leadoff double from Brian Dirheimer. Cody Heggie then lined a two-run homer over the wall in rightfield, his third of the year, for a 3-1 TNU advantage.
Trevecca gifted the Bulldogs a run in the bottom of the inning after a two-out walk to Brian Karahalios. West’s grounder was booted by shortstop Aaron Bree and then Heggie let a soft grounder from Kautz go right between his legs, allowing pinch-runner Chuck Belote to score and runners to move to second and third. But Kikla popped out to end the threat with TNU clinging to a 3-2 lead.
The visitors added to their lead in the eighth, though, after Muirhead reached on an error by Matt Holliman at short. Parks bunted the runner to second before a double from Lowe put runners on second and third. Muirhead scored on a wild pitch by reliever Eric Spivey and Dirheimer followed with an RBI single to leftcenter for a 5-2 Trojans lead.
But the Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom of the inning thanks to some clutch hitting. Matt Greener doubled to rightcenter with two outs and Fisher drew a walk before Mull hit a hanging 2-2 curveball from Dunn over the wall in leftfield, his sixth of the year, tying the contest at five.
Sprague retired the final 10 batters he faced, setting up Kikla’s heroics in the 11th inning. With one out in the 11th Kautz reached on an infield single on the leftside before Kikla hit a 1-1 pitch over the wall in rightcenter, his sixth round-tripper of the year and third of the week, giving the Bulldogs a 7-5 victory in the opener.
Parks made two outstanding catches in the game as well, robbing Wheeler twice. Wheeler lined to deep rightcenter on a ball that was slicing away from Parks in the first. He made a diving catch sliding into the wall to end the inning.
In the third Holliman led off with a single and Wheeler lined to deep leftcenter but Parks again made a fantastic catch, running into the wall. He then made a relay throw and the Trojans doubled off Holliman on the play to end a great threat for CU.
In the second game Parks walked to leadoff for the third straight game. He stole second and moved to third on Lowe’s groundout. Parks scored on a sacrifice fly from Heggie for an early Trojans lead.
The Bulldogs answered with a run in the bottom of the inning after Johnson struggled to find the zone. The lefthander walked Kautz and Kikla to start the game and Holliman loaded the bases with a single. Greener’s sacrifice fly plated Kautz, tying the game at one.
CU added another run in the second after a two-out single from West. Kautz reached on an error by TNU third baseman Trey Morrison and then Kikla beat out an infield single between the mound and third base, loading the bags. A run scored on a passed ball for a 2-1 Cumberland lead.
Trevecca answered quickly, though, with two runs in the third. Parks swung at a pitch in the dirt, striking out to leadoff, but the ball got away from West, allowing him to reach. Lowe then hit his second homer of the season, just over the rightfield wall, giving the Trojans a 3-2 edge.
The Bulldogs exploded for six runs in the bottom of the inning on five hits to take the lead for good. Greener started the frame with a walk and Fisher put down a perfect bunt for an infield single. Dave Weyer’s single to right loaded the bases before a two-run double down the leftfield line from West.
Kautz doubled to deep center, plating one run, before Kikla’s second homer of the day, a three-run shot to leftcenter, giving CU an 8-3 advantage. Johnson threw his next pitch behind Holliman, earning a warning from both dugouts from the umpires, and prompting a pitching change by TNU.
Neither team did much until the sixth when Trevecca scored three times and brought the potential winning run to the plate.
Bree reached on an infield single with one out and Nathan Wright walked. Chase Birdwell singled home a run, putting runners on the corners. Parks then beat out a swinging bunt, allowing Birdwell to score and chasing Timbrook from the contest.
Spivey entered for the second time of the day and threw just four pitches, walking Lowe and forcing head coach Woody Hunt into another pitching change. Sprague and Dirheimer battled through nine pitches before the Trojans catcher finally swung through strike three, ending the inning without any further damage.
TNU got the tying run to the plate again in the seventh after Morrison reached on a slow roller up the third base line with one out, but Bree struck out looking and Wright went down swinging to end the contest and the doubleheader after more than six-and-a-half hours of baseball.
Cumberland begins a 10-game road swing starting Tuesday and Wednesday at Milligan College. The Bulldogs play at Lambuth next weekend, Lee University on April 21, Freed-Hardeman on April 24-25 and Campbellsville on April 26. CU hosts Martin Methodist on April 30 and May 1, the final regular season games of the season.