Bulldogs move into championship game with 14-5 triumph
PADUCAH, Ky. – Max Kautz posted four hits with a pair of triples, Kris Miller homered, had two doubles and four RBIs and Sam Kikla added three hits and three RBIs with another home run, as second-ranked Cumberland defeated 21st-ranked Union University, 14-5, Wednesday in the winner’s bracket final of the TranSouth Championships here at Brooks Stadium. The victory advances the Bulldogs to the championship game of the tournament Thursday at Noon and extends the club’s winning streak to 20 games overall.
Cumberland (49-8) will play in the TranSouth Tournament title game for the seventh time in eight years in the league and will look for its sixth conference tourney championship. The Bulldogs scored eight runs in the first two innings against Union starter Derek Copley and then added two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to put the game away.
Miller hit a three-run homer in the first to give the Bulldogs an early lead and Kikla drove in two runs with a single in the second. Matt Greener and Miller added run-scoring doubles later in the second for CU, who took an 8-1 lead after two innings.
Bulldog starter Shawn Schaefer (12-0) got out of the first with just one run scoring and then cruised until allowing four runs in the sixth. The lefthander retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, though, keeping his record perfect in 13 starts this season. He allowed five runs on nine hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Copley was roughed up for eight runs on seven hits in 1.1 innings, walking one, hitting a pair of throwing a pair of wild pitches. Andrew Haley did a good job in relief for Union (39-14) before running out of gas in the seventh.
The Bulldogs got out quickly in the top of the first, with one-out singles from Kikla and Greener putting runners on the corners. Miller then lifted a high fly ball that the wind just kept carrying, over the wall in left for his 21st home run of the year and an early 3-0 lead.
Union answered with a run in the bottom of the inning with singles from Clint Barnes and Corey Rudolph before an RBI double down the rightfield line from Josh Jones. But Schaefer got a pair of groundouts without any more runs coming across.
Cumberland chased Copley from the game with a five-run second inning, taking advantage of some wildness from the righthander.
Kautz dumped a single down the rightfield line to start the inning and T.J. Murphy drew a walk. Squaring to bunt, Dave Weyer was hit, loading the bases. Kautz scored on a wild pitch and Kikla plated two runs with a single to rightcenter.
Kikla moved to second on another wild pitch and scored on Greener’s double to rightcenter. Miller followed with another double, Copley’s last batter of the contest.
Kikla belted a solo homer to rightcenter to leadoff the fourth, his 17th of the season, for a 9-1 Bulldog advantage.
In the fifth Kautz led off with a triple down the rightfield line and scored on Murphy’s line out to center.
Union scored four runs in the sixth, starting with a solo homer from Jones, his 12th of the year. Alex Turner and David Maristany both singled with one out and scored on Kevin Kirksey’s double to rightcenter. Danny Grimm’s two-out double to rightcenter plated Kirksey, cutting the Bulldog lead to 10-5.
But CU answered with two runs in the seventh, with David Fanshawe drawing a leadoff walk and Kautz following with his second triple of the game. Weyer put down a perfect safety squeeze with one out, allowing Kautz to score, and Weyer beat out the play when no one was covering first.
In the eighth Miller walked and Fanshawe lined a two-run homer over the scoreboard in leftcenter, his 11th of the season, for a 14-5 Bulldog advantage.
- Cumberland extended its winning streak to 20 games, its longest since ending the 2004 with 19 straight wins and claiming the school’s only NAIA World Series title.
- The Bulldogs advanced to the TranSouth Championships title game for the seventh time since joining the league prior to the 2003 season. Cumberland has won the tournament championship in five of the previous six appearances. Last season was the only season that CU did not reach the championship game.
- Shawn Schaefer struck out eight Union batters, bringing his career total to 160 and moving into eighth place on CU’s all-time list. The Pitt Meadows, British Columbia native’s 12th victory leaves him one shy of tying a single-season school record.
- Max Kautz finished the day 4-for-4 with two triples, a double, a single and a walk. The four-hit day was the first of the season for the left fielder and marked the 34th time Kautz has had a multi-hit day, including all three of Cumberland’s games in the tournament.
- Kris Miller, Sam Kikla and David Fanshawe each homered in CU’s win, increasing the team’s total to 120, 15 behind the school’s record. Miller’s three-run shot in the first was his third of the tournament.
- Kikla, Matt Greener and Miller – batting in the 2-4 spots – started the game a combined 8-for-9, including two homers and two doubles. However the trio cooled off in the later innings, finishing the game 0-for-10, reaching base only once on a walk.
- Kikla extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the first inning, while Greener, who had a hit in 30 straight games, stretched his current streak to 13 contests. Greener, the TranSouth Conference Player of the Year, has now hit safely in 54 of the 56 games in which he has played this season.