LEBANON, Tenn. – Aaron Wilkerson pitched seven strong innings and Cory Farris provided all of the offense with a pair of two-run home runs, as top-ranked Cumberland defeated 12th-ranked Belhaven University, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, Miss.
Farris hit his second and third home runs of the day to help the Bulldogs (6-1) win 2-of-3 games on the weekend. Cumberland lost the opener to McKendree, 2-1, on Friday but defeated McKendree earlier Saturday, 12-3.
The junior transfer hit a two-run shot in the third inning against Belhaven to put the Bulldogs ahead. He then belted another two-run homer in the sixth to give CU the lead for good.
Wilkerson, making his first start of the season, allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings. The righthander did not walk a batter and struck out seven, running his winning streak to 15 dating to last season.
Keith Kirby picked up his first save of the year, although he did it the hard way. Kirby allowed a single and a double to start the eighth inning but then retired the next six batters, five by strikeout, to preserve the win.
The Bulldogs managed just seven hits in the contest, but four came from the top two spots in the lineup. Tommy Winegardner singled both times before Farris went deep and the junior reached base four times in Saturday’s two contests.
Winegardner singled in the third for CU before Farris belted a two-run shot to rightfield for a 2-0 advantage.
But the Blazers (7-2) tied the contest in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Saunders hit a solo homer with one out in the inning and Tyler Winkle singled with two outs and stole second. He scored on Jimmy Gilford’s single up the middle to knot the score.
Winegardner singled to leadoff the sixth for the Bulldogs before Farris’ two-run homer to right again. The Bulldogs could have added more in the inning, as Greg Appleton followed with a double and Mike Mandarino singled to put runners on the corners and no one out.
But David Fanshawe popped out, Mandarino was thrown out trying to steal second and Richie Seaton lined out to end the inning.
Belhaven threatened the tie the game in the eighth against Kirby. Saunders singled to leadoff and Derek Tortorich followed with a double down the rightfield line, but Kirby struck out the next two batters and Lake Eiland popped out to end the inning.
Kirby struck out the side in the ninth to finish off the victory for the Bulldogs.
Cumberland hosts 24th-ranked Brewton-Parker in a single game Friday and a doubleheader Saturday and then takes on Indiana Tech in a doubleheader Sunday, all at Ernest L. Stockton Field, next weekend.