Kikla has big game, Bulldogs split DH
LEBANON, Tenn. – Sam Kikla went 5-for-5 with eight RBIs as Cumberland outlasted Freed-Hardeman, 20-16, in eight innings in the opening game of a doubleheader, but the Lions came back with a 14-3 victory in the second game, splitting a baseball twinbill Saturday at Carnes Field in Henderson, Tenn.
Cumberland (28-21, 13-5 TSAC) remains in a first-place tie with Trevecca despite losing the series at FHU. The Trojans lost a doubleheader Saturday to Lyon College and both teams will head into next week’s final series tied for first place.
Freed-Hardeman (28-14, 12-7) solidified its position in third place with the series victory and can still mathematically win the conference.
Cumberland blew a 13-2 lead in the opener, as FHU scored eight runs in the fifth and then six runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the contest at 16. But Kikla drove in a run, Michael Wheeler added two RBIs and Matt Holliman had a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to retake the lead in a contest that lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours.
Richard Timbrook came on to get the final three outs and the save, but not before loading the bases with just one out. Eric Spivey (2-2), the fourth of five CU hurlers in the contest, picked up the victory, facing one batter and getting the final out of the seventh.
Starter Robert Post allowed two runs on four hits in four innings of work and left with a 13-2 lead. He walked four and struck out four.
Joey Gildea (3-3) took the loss for FHU, the fifth Lions pitcher of the game. He allowed four runs on four hits in one inning.
Kikla went 5-for-5 with four runs scored and the eight RBIs, while Matt Greener collected three hits and Wheeler had three RBIs. Tyler Fisher hit his third grand slam of the season and Max Kautz also scored three times. The Bulldogs registered 19 hits in the victory and seven different players had two hits apiece.
In the second game CU committed five errors, which led to seven unearned runs. The Bulldogs fell behind early and trailed 5-3 before giving up three runs in the fifth and six more in the sixth when the Lions ended the contest because of the 10-run rule.
Timbrook (8-2) also started the second game for the Bulldogs and picked up the loss, his first since the season-opener at Auburn-Montgomery more than three months ago. He allowed 11 runs, six earned, on 11 hits with five strikeouts in five-plus innings.
FHU starter Alan Barmett (6-0) went the distance, giving up three runs, one earned, with three walks and nine strikeouts.
The Bulldogs got out to an early lead in the opener, scoring 10 runs in the first three innings and holding a 13-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
CU scored three times in the first after Kautz led off the game with an infield single and Kikla homered to leftcenter, his ninth of the season. Greener followed with a single but Wheeler grounded into a doubleplay.
Clint Alexander doubled down the leftfield line and scored when FHU first baseman Brian Bullard made an errant throw on Holliman’s grounder.
Willy Hernandez hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning for the Lions, but the Bulldogs responded with two more runs in the second.
Kyle West singled and Dave Weyer was hit before a sacrifice from Kautz put runners at second and third. Kikla drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Weyer later scored on a wild pitch for a 5-1 CU advantage.
In the FHU second Johanny Ramirez and Angel Nicolas both walked with one out and Ramirez scored on a two-out single up the middle from Greg Allen.
Cumberland came right back with five more runs in the third, starting with a walk to Wheeler. Alexander reached on an error by Nicolas at short and Holliman reached on a bunt single, loading the bases. Fisher then hit a grand slam to centerfield, his third grand slam of the season.
Weyer walked with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single from Kikla for a 10-2 Bulldogs lead.
The visitors added three more runs in the fifth after Kikla reached on an infield single with two outs and scored on Greener’s double to rightcenter. Wheeler then singled through the leftside, plating pinch-runner Chuck Belote. Wheeler came across on a triple to center from Alexander for a 13-2 CU advantage.
The wheels started to come off for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the inning, as the Lions plated eight runs on six hits against three CU hurlers.
Reliever James Parker started the inning on the mound and gave up a solo homer to Leo Alvarez. Hernandez then walked before Bullard hit a two-run home run.
Michael Clayton drew a walk before Parker got two outs, on a ground ball and strikeout. But Nicolas singled and Noslen Labrada doubled home two runs.
Matt Vance entered the game and gave up a bunt single to Allen. Alvarez then hit a three-run homer to left, his third round-tripper of the series and second of the inning, making it a 13-10 contest. Hernandez walked before Adam Sprague came on to get the final out of the inning, a strikeout by Bullard.
CU came back with three runs in the sixth after a leadoff walk to Fisher. West sacrificed him to second and Weyer walked. Kikla belted his second home run of the game with two outs, a line drive over the wall in leftcenter, giving the Bulldogs a 16-10 lead.
But again the Cumberland bullpen could not hold the lead.
Nicolas hit a solo homer to leftcenter to leadoff the seventh and Labrada followed with a single. After a groundout Alvarez singled through the rightside and moved all the way to third on an error by Blake Simmons, allowing Labrada to score.
Hernendez walked and Bullard’s fielder’s choice plated pinch-runner George Otero. Clayton then reached on an error by Kikla before an RBI double down the leftfield line from Bush. Ramirez then singled to rightcenter, scoring two runners and tying the contest at 16.
The Bulldogs scored four times in the eighth to retake the lead, starting with a leadoff single from West. Kautz singled with one out before an RBI single from Kikla for his eighth RBI of the game. Greener was intentionally walked to load the bases before a two-run single up the middle from Wheeler. A sacrifice fly from Holliman plated the final run of the inning for a 20-16 CU lead.
The Lions loaded the bases again in the bottom of the inning, though, with a one-out walk to Alvarez and singles from Hernandez and Bullard. But Clayton popped out and Bush struck out to end the marathon game, the first of the doubleheader.
FHU started fast in the second game, with Hernendez doubling to leftcenter with two outs in the first. Bullard was hit before Clayton hit a three-run homer to center.
The Bulldogs got two of the runs back in the second. Fisher drew a one-out walk before Eric Mull singled to left. Labrada booted the ball, allowing Fisher to score and Mull to end up at third. Mull scored on a balk. CU left the bases loaded in the inning.
But the Lions responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Labrada singled with two outs before Allen doubled down the rightfield line. Labrada scored, Allen moved to third on the throw and scored on a throwing error by Mull, giving the home team a 5-2 lead.
Wheeler homered to rightcenter to leadoff the third, cutting the deficit to 5-3, and the game stayed that way until the fifth.
FHU scored three times in the inning, starting with an Alvarez single, followed by a two-run homer from Hernandez. Bullard was then hit and pinch-runner Zach Burns later scored on an RBI single from Ramirez.
CU left a pair of runners on in the sixth after singles from Fisher and Mull.
The Lions put the game away with six runs in the bottom of the inning.
Labrada singled to leadoff and Allen sacrificed him to second but reached on a misplay. Labrada moved to third on the bunt and Allen stole second. Alvarez reached on an error by Kikla in rightfield, allowing one run to score and chasing Timbrook from the contest.
Hernandez reached on an error by second baseman Dave Weyer, with another run scoring, but Hernandez was later picked off. Bullard then walked before an RBI single from Clayton, playing pinch-runner Blake Taylor. Bush followed with a three-run homer to leftfield, ending the doubleheader after nearly six hours.
Cumberland plays again Sunday at 10th-ranked Campbellsville at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs finish the home schedule next Thursday and Friday against Martin Methodist.