Three-run homer sends CU to loss
LEBANON, Tenn. – Michael Clayton hit a two-run home run in the eighth and Leo Alvarez belted a three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth, sending Freed-Hardeman to a 7-6 victory over Cumberland Friday night in Henderson, Tenn.
Cumberland (27-20, 12-4 TSAC) scored five runs in the first two innings and led 6-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth before the homestanding Lions (27-13, 11-6) plated three runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth to take the victory.
The late-game heroics by the Lions ruined a big game for CU’s Max Kautz, who went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored three times, while Matt Greener added two hits, a run scored and a bases-clearing double.
Shawn Schaefer tossed eight innings for the Bulldogs, allowing four runs on seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Adam Sprague (4-4) gave up the winning home run as well as three hits in one-third of an inning after entering to start the ninth.
The Bulldogs had few scoring opportunities after the first two innings, plating a run in the seventh and stranding a pair of runners in the fourth after a leadoff single from Eric Mull and a walk to Kyle West. Kautz reached third with one out in the ninth but Matt Holliman popped out and Greener flied out to end the threat.
Brian Bullard and Derek Bush both collected two hits for Freed-Hardeman in the victory, while Alvarez walked three times in the game before his three-run homer in the ninth.
Jorge Lorie tossed seven innings for the Lions, giving up six runs on eight hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Javy Gomez (2-2) tossed two scoreless innings for the win, allowing one hit and striking out three.
Kautz walked to leadoff the game and moved to second on Holliman’s sacrifice bunt. Greener then singled, putting runners on the corners, before a two-out RBI single from Sam Kikla. Tyler Fisher followed with an RBI double to right for a quick 2-0 CU advantage.
The Bulldogs added three more runs in the second after a leadoff walk to Clint Alexander. With two outs Kautz singled and Holliman walked, loading the bases for Greener, who cleared them with a double to center for a 5-0 Cumberland lead.
Schaefer worked around three hits and a pair of walks in the first three innings, though no Lion advanced past second, before FHU was retired in order in the fourth.
The home team finally broke through in the fifth after a leadoff walk to Angel Nicolas. Johanny Ramirez reached on a fielder’s choice and Nicolas was safe on the play. Noslen Labrada’s fly ball moved Nicolas to third and he scored on a failed pickoff attempt by Schaefer at first.
In the FHU sixth Willy Hernandez and Bullard both singled to leadoff, but Clayton popped to Schaefer and the lefthander doubled off Hernandez. Bush then singled, but Nicolas groundout to end the inning.
The Bulldogs added some insurance in the seventh after Kautz singled to leadoff and stole second. Greener reached on an error by Clayton, with Kautz scoring on the play for a 6-1 CU advantage.
The Lions cut into the deficit with three runs in the eighth, starting with a walk to Alvarez. Hernandez grounded out, moving pinch-runner Blake Taylor to second, and Taylor scored on a double from Bullard. Clayton then homered to rightcenter, making it a two-run game, but Schaefer worked out of the inning with a popout and a strikeout.
In the ninth Ramirez and Labrada both singled to leadoff before a groundout back to the pitcher from Greg Allen. Alvarez then hit a 1-2 pitch over the wall in leftcenter for the game-winner, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead in the series.
The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. and the Bulldogs play Sunday at 10th-ranked Campbellsville at 1 p.m.