Bulldogs take NAIA opener, 11-1
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Max Kautz and Clint Alexander both homered and Adam Sprague allowed an unearned run in a career-best eight innings, as Cumberland defeated Brescia University, 11-1, Tuesday afternoon in the first game of the NAIA Baseball Opening Round here at Milton Wheeler Field on the William Carey University campus.
With the victory the Bulldogs (33-23) play again Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against fifth-ranked Southern Poly, the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Kautz hit a three-run homer in a six-run fourth inning for the Bulldogs, while Alexander hit a solo homer in the second, doubled in the fifth and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Sprague (6-5) gave up an unearned run in the first and then used the pitcher’s best friend, the doubleplay, with great success to work out of several jams. The Bulldogs turned four twin-killings in the contest.
The lefthander allowed six runs, walked three and struck out five in eight innings. He had not worked longer than six innings in any of his previous seven starts this season.
Brescia starter Joey Barnette (8-6) allowed eight runs, four earned, on nine hits in 5.1 innings, walking two and striking out four.
Alexander’s home run tied the game at one for CU before the Bulldogs used five hits and a costly Brescia error to score six times in the fourth.
Matt Holliman scored on Alexander’s sac fly and Matt Greener drove in a run with a single to center. A two-out error by first baseman Matt Boyd allowed Greener to score and extended the inning for Kautz, who laced a three-run homer down the leftfield line, his sixth of the year, giving the Bulldogs a 7-1 advantage.
Sprague did the rest, getting a line drive doubleplay to end the first inning and then twin-killings in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
The Bearcats (33-23) scored an unearned run in the first inning after a leadoff walk to Martel London. Jon Troutman grounded to Holliman at short with one out, but his throw sailed into rightfield, putting runners at second and third.
Justin McCormick hit the first pitch into rightfield for an RBI single, but Jared Votaw lined into a doubleplay to end the inning without any further damage.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the second with a leadoff solo homer to leftcenter from Alexander, his fourth of the season and second straight contest with a round-tripper.
CU struck for a big inning in the fourth, collecting five hits and taking advantage of one big Brescia error.
Holliman singled to leadoff and Michael Wheeler followed with a double off the base of the leftfield wall. Alexander lined out, plating Holliman, before an RBI single to center from Greener.
Eric Mull followed with a single to center, putting runners on the corners. Dave Weyer then hit a line drive off the glove of Boyd at first, scoring Greener and extending the inning for Kautz, who hammered a 1-2 pitch for a three-run homer, giving the Bulldogs a 7-1 advantage.
Kyle West walked with one out in the sixth and Weyer followed with a single to right, putting runners on the corners. Sam Kikla’s sacrifice fly plated courtesy runner Chris Fanning.
Alexander was hit to start the seventh and pinch-runner Jeremy Wilson scored on a two-out double down the leftfield line from Mull for a 9-1 CU lead.
In the eighth Weyer was hit, Kautz walked and Kikla was hit, loading the bases. Will Curry’s single to left plated two runs and ended the contest because of the 10-run rule.