Byrd's two grand slams help CU overcome early deficit
Dec 15, 2015 at 2:46 PM
Bryan College scored six runs in the first two innings, but Justin Byrd belted a pair of grand slams, Sam Lind collected three hits and Chris Hall scored three times in a 12-7 Cumberland victory in the final regular season contest for the Bulldogs on Wednesday at Ernest L. Stockton Field-Woody Hunt Stadium.
The Bulldogs (36-17) won for the 13th time in 16 contests and head into the Mid-South Conference Championships on a high note. CU will face host Lindsey Wilson on Sunday at noon CDT in the first game of the conference tournament.
Cumberland took advantage of 11 walks issued by three Bryan (29-25) hurlers, with four of those runners as well as one hit batter crossing the plate. Byrd delivered the two big blows for the Bulldogs, with a grand slam in the third inning capping a six-run frame that tied the contest.
He belted his second grand slam in the next inning, putting the Bulldogs ahead for good. He finished with three hits and eight RBIs and is just the second CU player in the last decade to hit two grand slams in a game, joining Phillip Cuadrado, who did it from both sides of the plate in the same inning in 2004.
Eight Cumberland hurlers limited the Lions to just four hits after the second inning, with freshman Andrew Woodfin (1-0) picking up the win with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. The right-hander walked one batter but did not allow a hit and struck out two.
The Lions had just one other good scoring chance after the second inning, loading the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, but Garrett Treadwell struck out Tyler Latham and Anthony Gomez got strikeouts of the next two hitters to end the threat with CU holding a 12-7 advantage.
Bryan starter Hunter Tipton (2-3) suffered the loss, giving up 11 runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings. He walked four and did not strikeout a batter.
The Lions started the game with six consecutive singles, placing balls in just the right spots against CU starter Clint Meadows. Kevin Roberts blooped a ball into short center to start the inning and Latham followed with a solid single to left. Preston King bunted and beat the throw to first, loading the bases, before consecutive singles by Justin Morhardt, Cody Rhinehart and Crandon Wallace, none of which were hit hard but found open space.
The hardest hit ball of the inning was probably the line drive off the bat of Garrison Price, whose sac fly plated the final run of the inning for a 4-0 Lions lead.
Roberts and Latham started the second inning with back-to-back doubles and Rhinehart’s two-out single to left scored Latham for a 6-0 Bryan advantage.
Cumberland scored six times in the third inning on five hits, with Tyler Alford drawing a one-out walk before a bunt single by Hall. Ricky Coleman followed with a single to right, off the glove of a diving King, and Lind’s single to short center scored a run. Brady North drove in another with a sac fly to center and Josciel Veras walked, loading the bases for Byrd, whose line drive down the right field line just cleared the wall, sending the fans into a frenzy and tying the game at six.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good in the fourth, with Hall belting a solo homer to right with one out. Coleman and Lind both walked and Veras was hit with two outs before Byrd’s second shot, this one a no-doubter, a towering drive that cleared Spring Street, pushing the advantage to 11-6.
In the fifth Hall led off with a walk and Lind singled with one out before another walk, this one to North, extending his on-base streak to 45 games, before a wild pitch plated the final run for the Bulldogs.
Bryan’s other run came in the seventh when King reached on an error, stole second and scored on Wallace’s two-out double to short left field, off the glove of a diving Hall.