LEBANON, Tenn. – Shawnee State scored three runs in the ninth with just one hit and two errors and Howie Rodriguez posted four hits in the Bears’ 11-9 victory over Cumberland in baseball action Friday at Ernest L. Stockton Field-Woody Hunt Stadium.
The two teams conclude the series Saturday with a 10 a.m. doubleheader.
The game went back-and-forth, with the Phoenix (20-13, 5-2 Mid-South) scoring four times in the second inning, but Shawnee State (11-16, 1-6) got three runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth. The teams traded two-run innings and Cumberland took a 9-8 edge with a bunt single and a throwing error in the eighth, allowing Bo Saunders to come around.
In the ninth Rodriguez’s single on the left side got things started for SSU and a sacrifice bunt by Blake Marshall was thrown away by CU pitcher Matt Rowe, allowing the runners to take second and third. Alex Medina’s safety squeeze turned into a run and an errant throw by Jared Schmidt put runners at second and third once again and still with nobody out.
Christian Helton’s deep fly ball to leftcenter scored Marshall and an errant pickoff throw from Rowe plated pinch-runner C.J. Radcliff for an 11-9 Bears lead.
Dalton Phillips got a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the ninth for the save, his second of the year, while Marty Knittel (1-1) picked up the win, allowing an unearned run on one hit in the eighth. SSU starter Ryan Lambert tossed six innings, giving up six runs on nine hits.
Four of the bottom five guys in Shawnee State’s lineup accounted for 12 of SSU’s 16 hits in the contest, including three from Medina, who drove in five runs, and two each by George Duran and Danny McGuire.
Kyle Blackwell registered three hits and Tyler Jones drove in two runs for the Phoenix. CU starter Polo Portela got knocked around for six runs on 10 hits in six innings, striking out seven. Rowe (3-1) suffered the loss, giving up three unearned runs on three hits in two innings.
The Bears loaded the bases in the second inning with singles from McGuire and Rodriguez and a walk to Marshall, but Medina flied out to end the inning.
Cumberland got on the board early with four runs in the second inning, starting with a leadoff single from Jared Schmidt and a double by Blackwell, who was tagged out on a ground ball by Tyler Jones. Peyton Wheatley’s single to center plated a run and after a fly ball moved Tyler Jones to third, Wheatley stole second.
Eddie McDaniels singled off the pitcher’s leg, scoring a run, and Bentley Jones singled through the left side, pushing across another run. McDaniels was the final run of the frame on a wild pitch for a 4-0 CU advantage.
Chase Thurber reached on an error to start the Bears’ fourth inning and McGuire singled to center after a nine-pitch at-bat. A single up the middle by Rodriguez loaded the bases for Marshall, who plated a run with a single to center.
Medina scored two runs with a single to left, cutting the CU lead to 4-3, but Portela got out of the jam without further damage with a pop-up to short rightcenter and a fly ball to left, leaving the bases loaded for the Bears.
Medina tied the contest with a one-out homer to right in the sixth, the first home run of the season for Shawnee State as a team. Christian Shelton then singled to left and Ben Sellers followed with a two-run blast to right for a 6-4 SSU advantage.
The Phoenix answered with back-to-back doubles from Blackwell and Tyler Jones to open the bottom of the inning. Pinch-runner Kaleb Qualls went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from Bo Saunders, evening the game at six.
Shawnee State came right back in the seventh with a leadoff single by Duran, who stole second and scored on a ground-rule double to leftcenter by Rodriguez. Marshall was hit before Medina chopped a single over the head of Tyler Jones at third base into leftfield, plating Rodriguez for an 8-6 SSU lead.
Cumberland again answered, beginning with a one-out double to rightcenter by Pablo Custodio. Jose Vera singled to center and moved to second on a wild pitch before a swinging bunt by Schmidt loaded the bases.
Blackwell walked, forcing in a run, and a line drive to center by Tyler Jones scored Vera, tying the contest at eight.
Saunders walked to leadoff the eighth for CU and a good bunt by McDaniels turned into a hit. Medina’s throw to first sailed down the rightfield line and Saunders scored on the play, but McDaniels was stranded at third, keeping CU in front just 9-8.