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Dawgs chew up one-time nemesis
Mar 08, 2007 12:00 am
Once upon a time, Cumberland couldn't buy a win against Bellevue. Now, the Bulldogs dominate the Bruins.
Cumberland led by 10 runs midway through Tuesday's afternoon outing at Woody Hunt Stadium before settling for an 11-5 laugher in a rematch of the 1995 NAIA national championship game won by the Nebraska-based team.
"It's always good to beat Bellevue," Cumberland coach Woody Hunt said after his No. 2 Bulldogs won their third straight to improve to 11-6-1. "They're one of our rivals on the national scene. They got a good team and I think you're going to see a very good club at the end of the year. They're just trying to find themselves, also. And they're from the North, of course, and they haven't been outside a whole lot."
Cumberland drove the No. 9 Bruins for cover with two runs in the first inning, five in the second and four in the fourth to back starter Myles Anderson. The right-hander allowed a run on three hits and a walk while striking out five in five innings to improve to 2-0.
Eric Mull drove in four runs on three hits, including a two-run homer in the second inning. Austin Morgan went 4-for-4 and scored three times. An ailing Clint Alexander also knocked in a couple of scores as the Bulldogs banged out 14 hits against a pair of Bellevue pitchers.
"Our team is right now just scratching the surface and we're trying to feel our way out," said Hunt, whose Bulldogs were 8-6-1 following last Friday's loss at Freed-Hardeman. "We're playing pretty good right now. We had a bad game last Friday against Freed-Hardeman; we had such a bad start we just couldn't recover from that. But we're hitting the ball well and I think our players are excited about playing and giving a good effort."
Hunt began substituting in the fifth inning. He sent Anthony Famasi, Matt Madigan and Matt West to the mound after Anderson. The quartet allowed nine hits. The game went the full nine innings after Bellevue scored in the top of the seventh inning just two outs before the Bulldogs would have run-ruled the Bruins.
With the addition of three teams to the TranSouth Conference and the NAIA regular-season limit of 55 games, Hunt doesn't have as many midweek double headers to experiment with lineups or give backups more playing time. The big lead Tuesday enabled the coach to rest some regulars.
"We didn't have much time this year and we like to do that a lot," said Hunt, whose team's conference season started last weekend at Freed-Hardeman and continues this weekend when Bethel comes to Cumberland for a three-game set. "I wish we had another week or so to look at things. We'll have to do a little bit of experimenting as we go along and next week we'll probably do a little bit of that [on the spring-break trip to Oklahoma]."
Injuries forced Hunt to juggle his lineup slightly Tuesday. Courtney Propst, normally an outfielder, played second base for the injured James Lilley, who banged up his shoulder while diving for a ball last weekend. It was the senior's first turn in the infield in his two seasons as a Bulldog, though he played the position in high school. Hunt said Lilley should be back for the Bethel series.
Of more serious concern is senior ace right-hander Karl Mejlholm, who was shelled in the first inning of Friday's loss at Freed with what has turned out to be an elbow ailment. He underwent an MRI Tuesday and is scheduled for another one today, said Hunt, who fears the pitcher is out at least four weeks.
"I knew there was something was wrong," Hunt said of Mejlholm's Friday outing. "There just wasn't any velocity and just wasn't himself. I hope we can get him back."
The Bethel series will start with a 2 p.m. single game Friday and wrap up with a noon double header Saturday.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.