JACKSON, Tenn. – Union University scored eight runs in the first three innings, taking advantage of three errors, and stayed alive with an 8-5 victory over fourth-ranked Cumberland on Friday in the TranSouth Baseball Championships here at Fesmire Field.
Cumberland (43-14) was eliminated from the tournament with the loss, giving up four more unearned runs in the loss. Union (36-15) scored four times in the first inning, three on a Bryan Hill home run that came after a two-out error, and added three runs in the third after the Bulldogs threw away a bunt by the home team.
Danny Grimm singled, doubled and drove in two runs for Union, while Kian Jost and RJ Rayborn added a pair of hits and Hill scored twice in the victory.
The Bulldogs stranded 11 runners in the game, including two in the first, seventh and eighth innings and the bases loaded in the fifth. CU was just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the contest.
Union starter Kevin Kirksey lasted four-plus innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with three walks and one strikeout. Derek Rook (6-1) tossed the remaining five innings to pick up the victory, giving up two runs, both in the ninth, on five hits with four strikeouts.
Bulldog starter Mike Mandarino (5-3) did not make it out of the second inning, allowing five runs, two earned, on six hits. Matt Vance got two outs before Daniel Kern shut down Union for 5.2 innings, giving up one hit and one walk with two strikeouts.
T.J. Murphy, Mandarino, Cory Farris and David Fanshawe all collected two hits for the Bulldogs, while Mandarino and Tommy Crews each hit two-run homers. Farris was named the Music City Star of the Game for his efforts.
The Bulldogs scored twice in the first inning, with Tommy Winegardner drawing a two-out walk before Mandarino belted a two-run homer to leftcenter, his 17th of the season.
But the lead was short-lived, as Union plated four runs in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of a two-out error by CU.
Jost singled with one out, stole second and scored on a two-out single to left from Oscar Depablos. Cole McAdams then grounded to third, but Murphy booted the ball, setting the table for Hill, who hammered a hanging curveball over the wall in rightcenter for a 4-0 UU advantage.
Union added a run in the second after a Grimm leadoff single and a one-out ground ball RBI double just inside the third base bag from Jost.
In the third Hill led off with a walk and Rayborn was hit before Wacey Russell put down a sacrifice bunt. Vance fielded the bunt and wheeled to get the runner at third, but his throw was well wide of the bag and rolled all the way down the leftfield line.
One run scored on the play and Grimm chopped a double over the third baseman’s head, scoring both runners for an 8-2 Union lead.
Cumberland cut into the deficit in the fourth when Fanshawe led off with a double and Jesse Bowman followed with a single. Pinch-runner Daniel Harrison scored on a wild pitch but Bowman was gunned down at third trying to take the extra base when the throw to the plate got away.
Murphy and Winegardner both singled to start the fifth for CU, chasing Kirksey, but Mandarino bounced into a fielder’s choice and Farris struck out. Crews was hit with two outs, but Fanshawe popped out to end the inning.
Mandarino singled and Farris was hit with two outs in the seventh, but Crews fouled out to the catcher to end the threat. In the eighth Fanshawe and Richie Seaton started the inning with singles, but both were stranded after a lineout, a strikeout and a flyout.
In the ninth Farris singled with two outs before Crews hit his ninth homer of the year, but it was too little, too late.
Cumberland will find out Sunday at 6 p.m. CT where the Bulldogs will play in next week’s NAIA Championships Opening Round, which starts Thursday at nine sites around the nation. Stay tuned to www.GoCumberlandAthletics.com for the announcement.