Bulldogs fall in finale, 11-4
LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland started fast but stranded 14 runners and made two physical errors and at least two more mental miscues, as the fourth-ranked Bulldogs dropped an 11-4 decision to No. 13 Bethel University Saturday in the finale of the three-game series.
Cumberland (28-7, 4-2 TranSouth) scored three runs in the first but could have had more, stranding a pair of runners in the inning and then two more in the second. That was a sign of things to come, as the Bulldogs left two runners on the base in the fourth, seventh and eighth and then left the bases loaded in the ninth.
CU failed to take advantage of 11 hits and six Bethel walks and then gave extra outs to the Wildcats (22-4-1, 3-3), which the visitors turned into 10 runs in the middle innings.
Bethel scored three times in the fourth inning with the help of an error and a misplayed grounder, then added four more runs in the fifth, including a three-run homer from Courtney Hardaway. The Wildcats plated three more runs in the sixth, again with the help of an error and a mental mistake on a ground ball that could have ended the inning for CU.
Bethel starter Nick Purcell (2-1) was shaky at the start but settled down, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings for the victory. He walked three and struck out eight, as the Wildcats registered 12 total strikeouts in the contest.
Adam Sprague (3-2) allowed just two baserunners through the first three innings before things unraveled for the lefty. He gave up eight runs on eight hits in five-plus innings, walking two and striking out four.
The top four batters in the Bulldog lineup all had two hits apiece – Greg Appleton, Sam Kikla, Matt Greener and Kris Miller – while the rest of the club was just 3-for-23 for the day. Kikla scored twice and reached base in all five at-bats.
Jake Ramsey went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs for Bethel, while Hardaway had two hits and drove in four runs and Jay Lowery added a pair of hits for the Wildcats.
The Bulldogs scored three times in the first on four hits, starting with a first-pitch double from Appleton. Kikla chopped an RBI single into left and Greener followed with a double just inside the third base bag. Troy Frazier plated a run with an infield single up the middle and Greener later scored on a wild pitch.
CU stranded two more runners in the first and then two again in the second before Purcell settled down and the Wildcats offense came alive with three runs in the fourth.
Craig Massey reached to start the inning after second baseman T.J. Murphy misplayed a ground ball and Johnathan DeBerry followed with a double to rightcenter. Ramsey’s grounder was booted by Kikla at short, allowing one run to score, before an RBI single from Hardaway.
Billy Keck sacrificed both runners to second and third and Shea Thomas’ fly ball into foul territory down the leftfield line scored Massey, tying the contest at three.
Bethel tacked on four more runs in the fifth, taking advantage of two free passes from Sprague.
Hunter DeBerry drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Lowery. Massey lined out but Johnathan DeBerry coaxed a two-out walk. Ramsey found a hole with an RBI single through the rightside, past two diving infielders, and Hardaway followed with a three-run homer to right, getting a ball into a helping wind for a 7-3 Wildcat advantage.
Bethel added three more runs in the sixth, again thanks to some shaky defense by the Bulldogs.
Thomas led off with a single, chasing Sprague from the contest, and Zach Tippitt sacrificed him to second. Hunter DeBerry was hit and Lowery singled, loading the bases. Massey hit a high one-hopper to Murphy, who tried to tag Lowery and turn the doubleplay, but the runner stopped before being tagged, allowing Massey to beat the relay and a run to score.
A walk to Johnathan DeBerry loaded the bases again and Ramsey skied a high pop into short right, but Murphy dropped the ball, allowing two more runs to score for a 10-3 Bethel lead.
Cumberland got a run back in the seventh but missed another opportunity for more.
Kikla reached on a throwing error by Tippitt to start the inning, sliding away from a potential tag. Greener walked and Miller singled to left, plating Kikla. But Frazier lined out sharply to third, David Fanshawe struck out and pinch-hitter Eric Vetetoe grounded out to end the inning.
Appleton walked and Kikla singled with two outs in the eighth, but Greener popped out to short center to end that inning without any runs for CU as well.
Ramsey hit a solo homer for the Wildcats in the ninth, his first of the season.
In the bottom of the inning Miller and Fanshawe both singled and pinch-hitter Adrian Mill walked, but another pinch-hitter, Danny Gallinot, struck out to end the contest.
Cumberland hosts eighth-ranked Lee University Tuesday in a single game at 2 p.m. before a four-game road swing that includes a single game at Campbellsville University and a three-game series at rival Trevecca Nazarene.