LEBANON, Tenn. – Top-ranked Lee University brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Daniel Kern got the final three outs and seventh-ranked Cumberland pounded out 11 hits, including three each from Cory Farris and Tommy Crews, as the Bulldogs won 7-4 over the Flames at Olympic Field on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Tenn.
Cumberland (36-12) made four errors in the game, allowing the Flames to score four unearned runs, but the Bulldogs turned a game-ending doubleplay to preserve the victory, the 10th straight for CU. Lee (42-8) also committed three errors in the contest, the first two allowing the visitors to take an early lead.
Mike Mandarino (4-2) threw six strong innings for the Bulldogs, allowing no earned runs on five hits. The righthander did not walk a batter and struck out three. Mandarino looked like he might take the loss after two errors allowed the Flames to score three times in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. He was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts.
But the Bulldogs answered with three runs in the seventh after Tommy Winegardner walked and Mandarino singled. Farris scored one run with a single before a two-run double to rightcenter from Crews put Cumberland ahead for good.
CU added an insurance run in the ninth when Farris doubled and Crews singled over the shortstop’s head for his third RBI of the contest. Mandarino added two hits to his cause on the mound and Winegardner scored twice.
Matt Vance tossed two good innings of relief before running into trouble in the ninth. Vance also benefitted from a great relay throw from Winegardner, as Roberto Reyes doubled to deep center, off the glove of Antonio Butler with two outs in the eighth, but Butler hit Winegardner and his throw nailed Reyes trying to stretch it to a triple.
A single and a walk started the bottom of the ninth for Lee, but Kern got a line out to centerfield before the game-ending twin-killing by pinch-hitter Logan Bowers.
Lee reliever Joe Fabre (2-2), the second of four Flames hurlers, took the loss, giving up four runs on five hits in 1.1 innings. Lee starter Jay Bolen allowed two runs on three hits with five walks in five innings.
Cumberland had plenty of other chances to add to the lead, but stranded 11 runners in the game, including two in the first, fourth and eighth innings and at least one baserunner in every inning but the second.
The Bulldogs plated a run in the first after T.J. Murphy singled with one out and moved to second on an error by Lee centerfielder Jonathan Clark. Mandarino reached on an error by shortstop Joe Ramirez, allowing Murphy to score for a 1-0 CU edge.
In the Cumberland third Winegardner walked with two outs and Mandarino followed with an RBI double to leftcenter.
The Flames cut the Bulldog lead in half with a run in the bottom of the inning, as Preston Scoggins and Max Harvell both reached on errors by Murphy and Clark’s single through the right side plated a run.
Cumberland added to its lead with a run in the sixth when Crews hit a bloop single just over the pitcher’s mound and David Fanshawe followed with a single. Clark booted the ball in centerfield again, allowing Crews to move to third, and Richie Seaton’s groundout gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage.
But the CU defense came up short in the bottom of the inning, allowing Lee to take the lead.
Ramirez and Michael Brown both singled through the leftside, but Mandarino induced a would-be doubleplay ball, only to have Winegardner’s throw sail right past Crews into rightfield. One run scored and the Flames had second and third with no one out.
After a popout Justin Marrero reached on a fielding error by Winegardner, letting both runners to score for a 4-3 home team edge.
The Bulldogs missed a chance to add to the lead in the eighth when Butler drew a leadoff walk and Greg Appleton singled. Murphy put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners, but Winegardner and Mandarino both struck out to end the threat.
Cumberland plays at Lyon College this weekend, with Friday’s single game starting at 3 p.m. and Saturday’s doubleheader beginning at Noon.