HENDERSON, Tenn. – Victoria Bennett homered for the sixth time in her career, but the long ball wasn’t enough to propel Cumberland University to a victory in the first game against Freed-Hardeman University Friday, as the Bulldogs dropped a 10-8 decision in the opener before losing a hard-fought 1-0 battle in the nightcap at Morgan Stadium.
Cumberland (21-19, 10-10 TranSouth Conference) lost its fourth straight game, the longest losing skid of the season for CU, and fell for the sixth time in eight contests. The Bulldogs are currently in a tie for fourth place in the TranSouth with the Lions, who improved to 12-15 overall and 7-7 in the league.
CaSarah Gilliam went 4-for-7 in the doubleheader, while Meghan White went 3-for-3 in the first game.
Heather James got the Bulldogs on the board first in the second inning with an opposite field single to right field that scored Megan Lavery from second after the Mt. Juliet High School product hit a one-out double to shallow left field that dropped in just ahead of a charging Brittny Johnson.
Freed-Hardeman answered with a run in the bottom of the frame, scoring on an RBI single by Betsy Pickler.
Bennett sent the first pitch she saw in the third inning over the fence in left field, just keeping the ball inside the foul pole and giving CU a 3-1 lead. The home run was the first since February 18 for the sophomore, and also scored White, who led off the frame with a double to deep left-center field.
Caity Gray set the tone for top of the fourth inning by fouling off nine pitches during a 14-pitch at-bat, ultimately resulting in a bloop single to right. The Corona, Calif., native moved up to second on a wild pitch before White singled in the run. White scored on Gilliam’s double over the head of right fielder Natalie Nelson.
FHU added a run on three two-out singles in the bottom of the inning, cutting the Bulldog lead to 5-2.
The Lions took their first lead of the game in the fifth inning, scoring three runs before Cumberland recorded an out. The first three batters all singled, including two on bunts, before Brittany Yates hit a bases-clearing triple. Back-to-back two-out doubles added two more runs for Freed-Hardeman, giving the home team a 7-5 advantage.
The Bulldogs got one run back in the sixth when Lavery scored after leading off with a double. She was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Gray and scored when Pickler tried to chase the CU designated player back to third with a throw that sailed over the head of third baseman Augusta McClary.
After Freed scored three times in the bottom of the inning on two doubles, a pair of singles and a walk, CU loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. The Bulldogs, who got hits from White and Gilliam as well as a walk by Bennett, were only able to get two runs out of it when Allison Blackwood grounded to second. After getting Blackwood out at first, FHU looked for a double play with a throw to second, but a throwing error allowed Gilliam to score. White also crossed the dish on the play.
Freed-Hardeman 1, Cumberland 0 (Game 2)
Cumberland stranded runners in scoring position in the first, fifth and sixth innings and missed out on a scoring opportunity in the third as Courtney White and Gilliam hit consecutive one-out singles and each moved up 60 feet on a wild pitch. Bennett then flew out to left field and White was thrown out at the plate trying to tag up.
Freed-Hardeman scored the only run of the game in the first with a two-out RBI in the bottom of the first inning by Betsy Pickler, driving in Amber VanSandt, who drew a walk and moved to third on a double by Brittany Yates.
Maynard (9-7) suffered the tough-luck loss, scattering six hits through five innings and allowing the only run of the game.
Cumberland travels to Batesville, Ark., Saturday at noon for a doubleheader against Lyon College. The Bulldogs swept LC at home on March 27.