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Cumberland's Clayton handcuffs Bethel
Mar 12, 2007 12:00 am
As Woody Hunt was wrapping up his postgame radio show Friday afternoon, a couple of his Cumberland pitchers stood waiting just outside the booth.
It was their day to clean the press box and they were waiting to do their jobs. Hunt thought one of them was there to follow the coach to the microphone to be interviewed.
That was because the player, Robert Clayton, had already turned in a great afternoon of work on the pitcher's mound below, handcuffing visiting Bethel to three hits as the Bulldogs run-ruled the Wildcats 10-0 in eight innings at Woody Hunt Stadium. The right-hander walked no one and struck out six as he pushed his record to 4-1 and Cumberland's to 12-6-1 for the season and 3-1 in the TranSouth Conference.
"I think we're really hitting our stride right now," said Clayton, whose No. 23 Bulldogs have won four straight. "Everything was pretty much working. I was really happy with my curve ball today. I was able to throw it for strikes, put it pretty much where I wanted to, which has been a little inconsistent for most of the year, but I'm really glad for the way it's going today."
Leadoff batter Courtney Propst went the opposite way with a home run to right field to launch Cumberland to a 1-0 first-inning lead. He scored on a third-inning sacrifice fly to right by Clint Alexander, who ended the game with a two-run homer in the eighth to activate the 10-run rule.
In between, Eric Mull hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Jeremy Wilson a three-run blast in the sixth as Cumberland cranked out nine hits.
"The way we're swining it right now, it's easy to go out there and throw," Clayton said in the clubhouse [not the radio]. "These guys are getting hot right now. The balls are flying all over the place. With them swinging the way they have, we're going to be a tough team because we have a good staff."
That's even without Karl Mejlholm, the Friday pitcher who came up lame last week at Freed-Hardeman. A couple of MRIs revealed a muscle strain in his pitching elbow. Hunt said the right-hander should return to the mound next month.
"Robert's a good pitcher and so is Karl and we need them both," said Hunt, whose Bulldogs host Bethel [12-4-2, 2-2] again today for a noon double header. "And we got two good guys going [today] [left-handers Zach Whitmer and Anthony Fomasi]. We don't focus on one or two guys. But Robert gives us that option of throwing him in the nine-inning game. Last year, Zach did a great job in that role. We never what we're going to do from weekend to weekend. But we know we're going to put Robert out there for sure if he keeps pitching like that.
"No walks is what I like from Robert. You make the guys put the ball in play and he had six strikeouts and he had good stuff today and good command... He's going to put the ball around the plate and move you in and out, up and down and that makes it tough on the other team. Our defense we had a double play and no errors."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.