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Four in a row for Cumberland
May 21, 2007 12:00 am
BARBOURVILLE, Ky. —One of the keys to Cumberland's success against Union [Ky.] College in the South Central Super Regional was how the Bulldog pitchers and catcher Luis Martinez would stop the home team's best-in-the-NAIA base stealers.
After stopping the host Bulldogs in the conventional way Thursday – with his arm – Martinez used his bat to bludgeon Union, and left-hander Zach Whitmer shut them down from the mound as Cumberland claimed a 7-0 conquest and a fourth straight trip to the NAIA World Series.
Martinez went 5-for-5 and drove in five runs, three coming on a three-run homer into a stiff breeze at Carey Stadium for a 4-0 lead in the third inning. He knocked in the other two on a triple an inning later.
And Whitmer never let Union up for air, holding the host Bulldogs to four hits and a walk while striking out nine in a complete-game outing to improve to 8-4. It was Union's first shutout loss in two years.
"Luis played great this week," said Cumberland coach Woody Hunt, noting Martinez threw out one of Union's jack rabbits and homered Thursday. "Today, we got ahead and they couldn't run. They didn't even get on base.
"Zach was so consistent. He was never in trouble at all."
This day seemed unlikely a month ago as Cumberland finished second to Trevecca in the TranSouth Conference standings.
"We were very inconsistent," Hunt said after his Bulldogs improved to 48-18-1. "We couldn't get our game together. The guys were trying hard.
"But we put things together the last month and became a pretty good team. We didn't worry about the loses too much. We just tried to get better and we did."
Cumberland collected 15 hits with Kyle West getting three of them and driving in a run. Clint Alexander scored the Bulldogs' first run on a second-inning error. Those two and Eric Mull doubled for the Dawgs.
The World Series will open next Friday in Lewiston, Idaho, and run through June 1. Joining Cumberland as automatic qualifiers is fellow Tennessee team Lee, along with Bellevue [Neb.], Lindenwood [Mo.], Spring Arbor [Mich.] and Walsh [Ohio]. Lewis-Clark [Idaho] State and Azusa Pacific [Calif.] met last night to decide the West Coast Super Regional in a battle of the nation's Nos. 1 and 2 teams, the loser of which will almost certainly get one of the three at-large bids to the 10-team double-elimination tourney at Lewis-Clark's field.
Lewis-Clark is the defending national champion following the Warriors' 5-4, 11-inning win over Cumberland last year. The Bulldogs took the title in 2004.
The seedings, as posted on the NAIA Website, are: 1. Lewis-Clark, 2. Azusa Pacific, 3. St. Thomas [Fla.], which lost to Lee in the Atlantic South Super Regional; 4. Spring Arbor, 5. Cumberland, 6. Bellevue, 7. Lee, 8. Houston Baptist, which lost to Lindenwood in the Mid-South Super Regional, 9. Lindenwood and 10. Union [46-17], which may have gotten bumped by No. 13 Walsh.