LEBANON, Tenn. – Daniel Kern tossed 4.1 scoreless innings of relief and 18th-ranked Cumberland scored 15 runs in the first three innings and still needed runs in the sixth and eighth innings to pull out an 18-15 victory over Bethel University Saturday in McKenzie, Tenn., in a game that took more than four hours to play.
With the victory Cumberland (32-12, 11-4 TranSouth) swept the three-game series against Bethel and moved into a third-place tie with Union University in the TranSouth. The Bulldogs are just one game behind league-leader Trevecca Nazarene in the loss column and are tied with second-place Martin Methodist in the loss column. The Bulldogs and RedHawks play a three-game series next weekend in Lebanon at Ernest L. Stockton Field-Woody Hunt Stadium.
The contest between the Bulldogs and Wildcats (18-16-2, 7-11) featured 33 runs, 36 hits, seven errors and 58 total baserunners. Cumberland scored eight runs in the top of the first, as Bethel starter Nick Purcell walked four and did not record an out. David Fanshawe hit a grand slam during the frame, but Bethel answered with 10 runs on eight hits in the bottom of the first.
Cumberland answered with seven more runs in the third inning, but plated two runs in the bottom of the third and again in the fifth as well as a single run in the fourth, knotting the game at 15. It wasn’t until the Bulldogs pushed across two runs in the sixth that they took the lead for good. CU added an insurance run in the eighth, and Kern made it stand up with terrific relief work.
The righthander (5-0) gave up three hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter in 4.1 innings, working around a pair of errors to preserve the lead. Kern was the fourth Bulldog hurler in the game. He was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts. Starter Mike Mandarino lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing six runs on five hits.
Purcell gave up five runs on just one hit without getting an out and Jordan Smith allowed seven runs on five hits in two-plus innings of work for the Wildcats. Jacob Hatchel (3-1), the fourth of six BU pitchers in the contest, took the loss, giving up two runs on three hits in one-plus inning.
Greg Appleton led the Bulldogs at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four runs scored, two walks and two RBIs, while Tommy Crews and Fanshawe both collected three hits and four RBIs in the victory. Antonio Butler added three hits as well despite missing an inning after being hit in the helmet in the first inning.
The first three batters of the game – Appleton, T.J. Murphy and Tommy Winegardner – all drew free passes before an RBI bloop single from Mandarino. Cory Farris also walked, forcing in a run and ending the day for the Wildcats righthander. Fanshawe belted a full count pitch over the wall in leftcenter, his fifth homer of the season, giving the Bulldogs a big lead with just one out in the first inning.
Butler was hit in the helmet with two outs in the inning and Appleton followed with a single. Murphy lined a 3-2 pitch off the base of the wall in rightfield, plating both runners for an 8-0 advantage.
But the Wildcats answered with 10 runs on eight hits in the bottom of the inning, starting with a leadoff single from Cody Crocker. The next two batters lined out before nine straight batters reached.
Hunter DeBerry singled with two outs and Billy Keck followed with an RBI single. Chase Pilkenton walked before Jordan Stack blooped a two-run single into short rightcenter. Jake Ramsey drove home two runs with a double to rightcenter and Jay Lowery followed with a double to the same spot.
Crocker walked and Chris Cain and Craig Massey both singled home runs. Richie Seaton’s throw to third got away, allowing Cain to score, and Massey came across on a wild pitch, giving the home team a 10-8 lead. The first inning took 51 minutes to play and included 18 runs, 12 hits and six walks.
Cumberland came back with seven runs in the third inning, as Fanshawe started the frame with a double to center and Jesse Bowman walked. Butler put down a sacrifice bunt and reached when Smith booted the ball, loading the bases.
Appleton plated two runs with a double down the leftfield line and Murphy followed with a walk. Butler scored on a wild pitch and Appleton scored on Winegardner’s sacrifice fly. Mandarino singled, putting runners on the corners, and Crews hit a three-run homer to right, giving the Bulldogs a 15-10 advantage.
Bethel cut into the deficit with two runs in the two runs in the bottom of the inning. Lowery singled to leadoff and went to third on a pair of wild pitches. He scored on Crocker’s single to right and Crocker moved to third when CU hurler Christian Jennings made a wild throw on Cain’s sacrifice bunt. Massey’s groundout later plated Crocker.
Ramsey hit a solo homer in the fourth inning for the Wildcats, slicing the Bulldog advantage to 15-13, and BU tied the game with two runs in the fifth.
Massey led off with a triple and DeBerry followed with an RBI single. He moved to second on Keck’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out single to right from Stack.
Cumberland again answered the bell, plating two runs in the sixth to re-take the lead. Butler and Appleton both singled with one out and Murphy walked, loading the bases. Winegardner’s double to center scored a pair of runs for a 17-15 CU edge.
The Bulldogs added a bit of an insurance run in the eighth when Farris singled with two outs, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Crews’ single up the middle.
Lowery singled to start the Bethel eighth but Crocker bounced into a doubleplay to quickly erase the threat. In the ninth Massey led off with a single and Pilkenton reach on a two-out error by Winegardner, but Stack grounded back to Kern to end the marathon contest.
Cumberland plays a single game at Georgetown College at 2:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday.