JACKSON, Tenn. – Allison Blackwood and Megan Lavery both homered in Cumberland University’s second game of its season-opening doubleheader against Lambuth University at Lions Field Wednesday, leading the Bulldogs to an 8-0 mercy-rule shortened contest after CU dropped the first game, 6-5, in eight innings.
Blackwood also doubled in each game, finishing the day 3-for-6 with four RBIs. CaSarah Gilliam went 2-for-3 in the second game, while Stephanie Gutierrez and Victoria Bennett both had two hits on the day.
The Bulldogs (1-1) opened the nightcap with five of the first six batters reaching base. Blackwood doubled to right-center, plating Christina Manis, who drew a four-pitch walk to open the game. Bennett and Gutierrez followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give Cumberland a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
After Manis and Gilliam hit consecutive one-out singles in the top of the second, Blackwood doubled the Bulldog lead on the first pitch she saw, sending it over the fence in right field.
Lavery added Cumberland’s seventh run of the game in the third inning with her solo shot that easily cleared the fence in right-center. The Bulldogs added one more run in the fourth
Courtney Maynard, who tossed four scoreless innings, gave up just one hit and fanned three, earning her first career victory. The redshirt freshman faced just one over the minimum through three innings, walking the third batter of the game before sitting down the next eight.
She ran into trouble in the fourth, but used a stellar play by the Bulldog defense to get out of the jam unharmed. After allowing her only hit of the game around a pair of Lambuth walks with one out, Maynard got Belinda Hernon to fly out to right field. Gilliam ended the inning by mowing down Paige French at the plate with a perfect throw to catcher Nicole Swann, who held onto the ball despite a collision from the runner tagging up from third.
Lambuth (1-3) got two runners on in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Caity Gray, but the junior got Tai Meadows swinging to end the game.
Lambuth 6, Cumberland 5 (8 innings)
The Bulldogs couldn’t overcome four errors in the opener as Lambuth came from behind twice to hand Cumberland a loss in the first game.
CU plated three runs in the first inning, taking advantage of three Eagle errors and a wild pitch. Manis led off the contest with a slap hit to third baseman Shawna Weed, who sailed the throw over the head of Mallory George. The speedy Manis swiped second before moving to third on a wild pitch.
After Lavery struck out, Blackwood walked to put runners on the corners and set up a wild play. Sarah Murray made contact on a ball that went about six feet in front of the plate where Meadows picked it up and fired to first. The throw hit Murray in the head, knocking her batting helmet off and sending the ball into right field. The freshman started heading for third when Lambuth centerfielder Whitney King attempted to throw out Blackwood at the plate but was off the mark. Catcher Cassidy Matthews threw to third trying to get the sliding Murray at the bag and sent the ball into left field, allowing the Collierville High School product to score.
Cumberland went up 4-0 on Manis’ sacrifice fly in the fourth, scoring Gutierrez, who walked to start the inning.
Lambuth got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the frame with an RBI double through the left side of the infield before Blackwood got a strikeout to end the threat with a pair of runners on base.
Five outs away from closing out a season-opening win, the Bulldog defense fell apart in the bottom of the sixth inning. Manis dropped a fly ball before back-to-back hits and a second error by the left fielder made it a 4-3 game. The Eagles knotted the game and forced extra innings when Gutierrez couldn’t handle a ball hit to third base with a runner on third.
With tiebreaker rules in place In the eighth inning, Blackwood started on second and moved to third on a groundout by Murray and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Bennett. However the Eagles plated a pair of runs with RBI singles by Matthews and Meadows to end the game.
Blackwood (0-1) suffered the loss in the circle, giving up three runs on 10 hits.
The Bulldogs return to action Friday, taking part in the Bryan College Invitational in Dayton, Tenn. CU will play three games, starting at 1 p.m.