LEBANON, Tenn. – Will Locante tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out a career-high 13, and Mike Mandarino hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, his second homer of the day, giving 18th-ranked Cumberland a doubleheader sweep, 5-2 and 1-0, over Bethel University on Friday at Wildcat Park in McKenzie, Tenn.
Cumberland (31-12, 10-4 TranSouth) won the first game of the doubleheader behind home runs from Mandarino and Tommy Crews. Aaron Wilkerson picked up the victory on the mound, but his consecutive scoreless innings streak ended at 54.0 after the Wildcats plated single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
The righthander (8-0) allowed five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six, facing the minimum number of hitters until a two-out double in the sixth from Jay Lowery.
Bethel starter Colby Fitzpatrick (1-3) gave up four runs on five hits in five innings, walking five and striking out seven.
Locante (4-2) was nothing short of brilliant in the second contest, not allowing a hit until the sixth inning and throwing 102 pitches. The lefthander gave up two singles in the sixth and one in the ninth, walking one with 13 strikeouts. He was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts.
Locante had to be nearly perfect because Bethel starter Joey Wilder (5-2) was almost as good, as he allowed only two hits in the first six innings. Mandarino hit his solo homer to leadoff the seventh, this one to rightcenter, for the game-winning run.
Mandarino collected four hits and three RBIs in the twinbill, as the Bulldogs managed just 10 hits in the two games.
The Bulldogs took an early lead in the opener when Tommy Winegardner drew a two-out walk and Mandarino followed with his ninth home run of the season.
Tommy Crews hit a solo homer to center to leadoff the fourth for a 3-0 CU advantage.
In the fifth Greg Appleton was hit and T.J. Murphy walked before Winegardner singled, loading the bases. Cory Farris singled home a run and Murphy later scored on a wild pitch, giving the Bulldogs a 5-0 edge.
That was more than enough for Wilkerson, who allowed a leadoff infield single in the first to Cody Crocker but erased him with a doubleplay. The Wildcats (18-15-2, 7-4) did not have another baserunner until Lowery’s double in the sixth. Crocker singled home Lowery for Bethel’s first run.
In the Wildcats seventh Chris Cain singled to leadoff, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Hunter DeBerry’s double to rightcenter.
In the second game both teams had one baserunner in the first inning – a walk to Winegardner and a free pass to BU’s Tyler Roberson. Neither team had another player reach base until a Mandarino single in the fourth for the Bulldogs.
Roberson also reached in the fourth for the Wildcats via an error by Murphy, but Locante got a groundout and two strikeouts to end the threat.
Murphy doubled in the sixth for the Bulldogs only other runner before the seventh, while Roberson and Craig Massey both singled for BU, but pinch-hitter Celtic Rush struck out to end the inning.
In the seventh Mandarino led off with his home run and David Fanshawe singled later in the inning. Pinch-runner Daniel Harrison stole second, but Richie Seaton flied out with CU holding the 1-0 lead.
DeBerry singled to leadoff the seventh and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chase Pilkenton. DeBerry went to third on a wild pitch with two outs, but pinch-hitter Billy Keck struck out looking to end the contest, the fifth batter to go down looking in the game for the Wildcats.
Cumberland and Bethel conclude the three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. and the Bulldogs play at Georgetown College at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. CU returns home next weekend, taking on Martin Methodist in a three-game series.