Cumberland will face host Lindsey Wilson at noon CDT next Sunday in the opening round of the Mid-South Conference Championships, as announced Sunday by the league office.
The Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed in the tournament after sweeping Rio Grande this weekend in the final conference games of the season. CU has won 12 of its last 15 games overall and posted victories in the final six conference series of the year dating to March 21-22.
The Blue Raiders are the No. 7 seed in the eight-team field and limp into the tournament with six losses in their last seven contests, including all three this weekend at home to the University of the Cumberlands.
St. Catharine and Bluefield will play at 3 p.m. on Sunday and the losers of the two games will face each other at 6 p.m. or 30 minutes following the completion of the second game of the day.
Three contests will also be played at approximately the same time on Sunday at Campbellsville, with regular season champion Georgetown College facing the University of the Cumberlands at noon CDT and Campbellsville taking on Shawnee State at 3 p.m. The losers of the two games will play at 6 p.m. or 30 minutes following the completion of the second game of the day.
All action beginning Monday, May 5 will take place at Lindsey Wilson’s Egnew Park. Because two fields will be used on Sunday, the tournament is expected to end on Wednesday and must be finished by midnight on Thursday to meet NAIA regulations for the following week’s NAIA Championship Opening Round.
Veras drives in both game-winners in CU sweep
Josciel Veras drove in the winning runs in the final inning in both games of the doubleheader and Brady North belted two home runs in the second game, as Cumberland ended the conference schedule with 7-6 and 8-7 victories over Rio Grande on Saturday at Ernest L. Stockton Field-Woody Hunt Stadium.
The Bulldogs (35-17, 17-9 Mid-South) earned the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with the victories. The Mid-South Conference Championships will begin May 4 in Columbia, Ky.
Carlos Flores belted a three-run homer for Rio Grande (21-29, 6-21) in the top of the ninth after a pair of CU errors, tying the game at six. Ricky Coleman walked for the Bulldogs to lead off the bottom of the inning, Sam Lind followed with a single and North was walked, loading the bases. Veras’ drive into rightcenter plated the winning run for a 7-6 victory in the opener.
Jake Collier (6-3) went the distance in the game for Cumberland, allowing just three earned runs on nine hits. The right-hander did not walk a batter, struck out three and induced 17 ground balls.
URG reliever Landon Hutchison suffered the defeat, allowing one run on three hits with two walks in one-plus innings.
Coleman, Lind and Veras each had two hits for the Bulldogs, while Lind drove in two runs and Chris Hall and Coleman both scored twice.
North had a three-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the fifth, the second one giving the Bulldogs a 7-6 edge, but Veras misplayed a double off the bat of URG’s Marcus Makuch, which scored Daulton Kenyon, who led off the inning with a pinch-hit single.
But Veras made up for the mistake in the bottom of the frame once again, this time after North walked with one out and pinch-runner Jarrett Plunkett took second on a wild pitch. A single to center pushed across the winning run, sending the club’s 15 seniors home with a pair of wins on Senior Day.
CU starter Kevin P. Greene gave up four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. Clint Meadows (2-1) picked up the victory, allowing one run on two hits with one walk in two innings.
Rio Grande reliever Anthony Knittel (3-4) took the loss, giving up one run on two hits with three strikeouts in two-plus innings of work.
North was 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored and Veras added two more hits in the victory for CU.
Cumberland plated a run in the first inning in the opener of the twin bill, with Hall drawing a leadoff walk and moving to third on Coleman’s infield single to the right side. Lind’s ground ball pushed home the run for an early lead.
A solo homer down the right-field line for Rio Grande’s Kirk Yates tied the contest in the top of the second, but CU answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Richie Seaton singled with one out and stole second with two outs before an RBI single to left by Hall, who went to second on the throw to the plate. Coleman then doubled down the left-field line, plating a run for a 3-1 Bulldogs advantage.
In the seventh Coleman walked with two outs, stole second and scored on Lind’s single to center for a 4-1 lead, but back came the Red Storm.
Knittel was hit to start the URG eighth and Flores singled to center. Grant Tamane’s fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with two outs, but Makuch’s double to right-center scored both runs, cutting the deficit to 4-3.
Cumberland answered in the bottom of the inning, with Veras leading off with a single and Justin Byrd drawing a walk. A sacrifice bunt by Tyler Anderson moved the runners to second and third and Bryan Haney’s two-out single down the right-field line pushed the CU lead back to three.
But all of that was for naught when Coleman and Lind both made errors in the ninth on ground balls by Daryin Lewis and Kenyon, setting up the three-run homer to left by Flores, tying the game at six.
In the second contest the Bulldogs started fast again, this time with Byrd and Coleman both drawing walks before an RBI double down the right-field line from Lind. North followed with a three-run homer to right-center for a 4-0 edge after one inning.
The Red Storm tied the game in the fourth thanks to five hits in the frame, starting with a single to left and a double to right-center from Makuch. A ground ball by Yates scored one run and Chris Ford popped out for the second out of the inning, but URG strung together three straight hits to knot the score.
Lewis’ infield single plated Yates and Luis Jimenez followed with an RBI double to right-center. Flores then singled to center, as well, scoring Jimenez with the tying run.
Cumberland answered in the bottom of the inning, as Will Henderson singled and Haney walked with one out before Coleman’s two-out double to left-center gave the Bulldogs a 6-4 advantage.
That lead was short-lived, as URG tied the contest again in the fifth.
Arroyo reached on an error with one out and Tamane walked. Makuch popped out for the second out of the inning, but Yates’ triple to right-center plated both runners for a 6-6 game.
North put Cumberland back ahead in the bottom of the inning with his second homer of the contest, this one a solo shot to right field, setting up the final-inning fireworks for the second straight game.
The Bulldogs will play host to Bryan on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the final regular season contest of the year.