KINGSPORT – Clint Meadows gutted out his second straight complete game, Chris Hall collected three hits and four RBIs and Richie Seaton reached base four times and scored twice, as 23rd-ranked Cumberland survived for the second time on Wednesday with a 6-4 victory over No. 7 Missouri Baptist here at Hunter Wright Stadium in the NAIA Championship Opening Round.
With the win Cumberland (43-19) forced a second championship game in the tournament and will face Missouri Baptist for a third time in three days and fourth time this season at 11 a.m. CDT today for the right to advance to the Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
After not pitching more than 5.2 innings in a game this season, Meadows (7-4) worked 10 innings against Georgetown College in last week’s conference tournament and tossed all nine frames versus Missouri Baptist (47-13). The right-hander allowed two earned runs on eight hits, walking four and striking out three.
He did a great job of conserving pitches for most of the game, throwing more than 15 in an inning just once through the first seven frames, but the Spartans scored twice in the eighth, extending the pitch count even more. Meadows just kept firing and got a double play after a leadoff walk in the ninth and then a groundout to shortstop to end the contest.
Hall posted two-run singles through the middle, both in almost the exact same spot, and Seaton plated another run with a double down the right-field line. Sam Lind’s sacrifice fly in the first inning put the Bulldogs ahead, 1-0, early.
MBU starter Michael Yarbrough (10-1) allowed five earned runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings, walking two and striking out four to suffer the loss. Trevin Craig and Orlando Oliveira each recorded three hits for the Spartans and Joe Stropp added two hits, but the bottom four spots in the lineup went hitless in 13 at-bats for MBU.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the first inning thanks to an error, as Hall led off with a single to right and Ricky Coleman followed with a single, also to right. The ball bounced off the glove and to the right of rightfielder Craig, allowing Hall to take third on the play, and Lind’s deep fly ball to right-center plated the run for an early edge.
Cumberland added two more runs in the second, with everything starting on a two-out walk to Seaton. Bryan Haney followed with a double down the leftfield line and Hall’s chopper up the middle, just off the glove of a diving Jeff Smith and into centerfield, scored Seaton and pinch-runner Zach Cole for a 3-0 advantage.
The Spartans took advantage of a CU miscue for two runs in the third.
Craig reached on an infield single with one out and Coleman’s throw to first on a slow roller off the bat of Josh Fuentes pulled Brady North off the bag. Oliveira singled sharply to left, loading the bases, and after a strikeout of Eli Roundtree, Stropp singled to center, plating a pair of runs to cut the Bulldog lead to 3-2.
Cumberland left a pair on base in the fourth but added to the lead in the sixth after a leadoff single by North. Anderson singled with two outs and Seaton followed with a run-scoring double down the right-field line.
Haney walked, loading the bases, and Hall bounced a single up the middle, again just out of the reach of a diving Smith, plating two more runs for a 6-2 advantage for the Bulldogs.
Missouri Baptist would not go away, though, and took advantage of a pair of walks in the seventh, free passes to Ryan Clarke and Fuentes. Oliveira’s triple to right-center plated a pair, cutting the Cumberland edge to 6-4.
The Bulldogs missed opportunities to add to the lead in the seventh and eighth innings, with North and Josciel Veras both hit to start the seventh, but Justin Byrd bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end that threat. Seaton led off the eighth with a single, but Haney’s bunt was too hard and turned into a 1-6-3 twin-killing.
In the ninth Smith led off with a walk, but pinch-hitter Enrique Pagan bounced into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch. Craig singled up the middle, but Fuentes grounded to short and Anderson flipped to second for end the contest with Oliveira on deck.
Bulldogs stay alive with 8-1 victory
KINGSPORT – Kevin P. Greene scattered eight hits in a complete game, Josciel Veras belted a two-run homer and drove in three runs and Ricky Coleman added three hits, as 23rd-ranked Cumberland stayed alive in the NAIA Championship Opening Round with an 6-1 victory over Bryan on Wednesday at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Cumberland (42-19) advanced to play No. 7 Missouri Baptist Wednesday afternoon. CU will have to beat the Spartans twice to advance to the NAIA-Avista World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. MBU defeated the Bulldogs, 5-2, on Tuesday.
Greene (9-1) had just one inning with multiple baserunners, scattering eight hits and striking out four without a walk in his longest outing of the season. The right-hander retired 12 of the first 13 batters of the game and gave up three combined hits in the eighth and ninth innings after CU extended its advantage.
Veras provided all of the offense the club would need with a sacrifice fly in the third and his fourth home run of the season in the fifth inning. Coleman drove in two runs with a double and Sam Lind added an RBI single in the sixth.
Justin Byrd, Richie Seaton and Lind all posted two hits and Chris Hall scored twice for the Bulldogs.
Bryan (35-28) starter John Cain (2-6) allowed five earned runs on 11 hits in six innings to take the loss. The left-hander walked three and struck out two in just his second start of the season.
The Bulldogs missed a chance to take a lead in the first inning with singles from Coleman and Veras, but Brady North grounded out to end the threat.
Cumberland got on the board in the third thanks to an error by the Lions.
Bryan Haney’s hard grounder up the middle got by second baseman Cody Rhinehart into center field and after a groundout by Hall, Coleman’s shot up the middle was fielded by shortstop Grant Zawadski, but Rhinehart dropped the flip for a possible double play, as he tried to make the throw before he caught the ball.
That opened the door for CU, as Lind drew a walk to load the bases and Veras plated the first run of the game with a line drive to deep left-center.
The Lions tied the game in the top of the fifth after a leadoff single to center by Rhinehart. He moved to second on Crandon Wallace’s bunt and scored when Justin Morhardt dumped a single down the left-field line.
Cumberland regained the advantage in the bottom of the inning, as Coleman led off with a single and Veras drilled a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left, his fourth homer of the year, giving the club a 3-1 advantage.
Seaton started a rally for the Bulldogs in the sixth with a one-out single to right and with two outs, Hall dumped a short single into left. Coleman then laced a double off the base of the wall in right field, plating two runs, but Coleman and first baseman Kevin McMiller collided between first and second on the play, knocking the CU third baseman from the game for an inning.
Lind followed with a single to right, scoring pinch-runner Jarrett Plunkett, for a 6-1 lead. Lind lifted a high fly ball down the right-field line that just cleared the wall in the eighth for his 14th home run of the year and the final 8-1 score.