LEWISTON, Idaho – Aaron Wilkerson tossed eight shutout innings, David Fanshawe had a two-run homer and a two-run single and Wilkerson started a game-ending doubleplay, as second-ranked Cumberland jumped out early and held on in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 victory over fourth-ranked Lee University late Thursday night for the Bulldogs second national championship here at Harris Field in the 54th Annual Avista-NAIA World Series.
The Bulldogs (58-9) won 28 of their final 29 games of the year, including five straight to claim the World Series title for the first time since 2004.
Fanshawe hit a two-run homer in the fourth and added a two-run single in the fifth to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 edge.
Wilkerson was dominant through eight innings before running into trouble in the ninth, allowing a three-run home run to Michael Brown. Seth Walker reached on a bad-hop single with one out before Taylor Comford grounded back to the mound. Wilkerson knocked it down, fired to Sam Kikla and the shortstop made the relay throw to end the contest.
Wilkerson (14-1) did not allow more than one baserunner through the first eight innings, allowing just four hits, walking two and striking out seven. The righthander tossed 147 pitches in his third complete game of the postseason, ending a magical run to the title.
Cumberland stranded 12 runners in the game, missing chances in the middle innings and again in the ninth to expand the lead. The Bulldogs stranded a pair of runners in the third, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth.
Lee starter Matthew Gilson (10-1) took the loss, giving up four runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. The lefthander walked four and struck out seven.
The Bulldogs had few good swings and just two hits against Gilson through the first three innings before Frazier singled to leadoff the fourth. Fanshawe then belted a first-pitch fastball over the wall in deep leftcenter, his 13th of the year, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
CU added two more runs in the fifth, as Greg Appleton was hit to leadoff the inning. Kikla lined out to deep center but Matt Greener drew a walk. Frazier worked a two-out walk, setting up Fanshawe, who chopped a single back through the middle, plating two runs for a 4-0 Bulldog advantage.
Kris Miller singled to leadoff the seventh and Frazier reached on an error, but two strikeouts and a popout end the threat. In the ninth Greener singled, Miller doubled and Frazier walked, loading the bases with no outs, but Fanshawe bounced into a doubleplay and Max Kautz fouled out, as the Bulldogs again failed to convert a scoring chance.
In the bottom of the ninth Lee’s Junior Rodriguez drew a leadoff walk and Jose Cuevas hit a short pop to right. T.J. Murphy missed the pop fly, but Miller was right there to get the force at second, with Kikla making a great scoop on the throw.
Edgar Molina fisted a single into short right before Brown belted an 0-1 fastball over the wall in leftcenter, his 11th of the season. Walker followed with a two-hopper to Kikla, but as we saw throughout the tournament, ground balls can be adventures, with the last hop bouncing right over Kikla’s head into leftcenter.
Comford worked the count to 2-2 before hitting a sharp grounder to Wilkerson, who knocked it down, fired to Kikla, who made a terrific turn and a very strong relay to nail Comford on a bang-bang play at first and end the contest.