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Whitmer pitches Cumbeland to 2-0 win
May 08, 2007 12:00 am
JACKSON — Woody Hunt spent the season trying to save Zach Whitmer for the tournament.
With tournament time here, the Cumberland coach allowed his left-handed ace to let it all hang out Thursday night in the TranSouth Conference winner's bracket final and the senior turned in a spectacular performance in a 2-0 Bulldog victory over Crichton at Fesmire Field.
Whitmer, who was used primarily in one of the Saturday seven-inning conference double-header games during the season, tossed a nine-inning two-hitter to leave Cumberland as the final unbeaten among the final four teams. He outdueled Crichton freshman Matt Phillips, who surrendered five hits in what was also a route-going performance.
"It was a well-pitched game, a pretty quick game," Cumberland coach said of the game which ended right at the two-hour mark and just as a squall line hit the Union University campus.
Crichton's only hits were a second-inning infield single by Jacob Barker, who was promptly erased on a double play, and a one-out single through the hole at shortstop by Anthony Tomassetti in the sixth.
Otherwise, Whitmer breezed until the eighth when Barker walked. His pinch runner, Marty Roberson, advanced to second on a balk and to third on a passed ball with no one out. But Whitmer reared back to strike out the side, sandwiched around another two-out walk [his only free passes of the night].
An inning later, the last of his six strikeouts was dropped and Turner Barnes got all the way to second base on the passed ball and an ensuing errant throw. But Whitmer enduced a flyout and back-to-back groundouts to clinch Cumberland's 40th win of the season against 17 setbacks and a tie. Whitmer improved to 5-4.
"He's pitched well," Hunt said. "He's a better pitcher than his record indicates.
"He really sucked it up and really pitched well... I really give him all the credit. He really set the tone today for our team."
Cumberland scored single runs in the fourth and fifth frames.
Back-to-back two-out doubles by Jason Bush and Austin Morgan put Cumberland up 1-0 in the fourth.
James Lilley led off the fifth with a walk. He was sacrificed to second by Courtney Propst and went to third on a wild throw. Clint Alexander's sacrifice fly to right made it 2-0.
Bush doubled twice for the only multiple hits off Phillips, who used an effective breaking ball to walk five and strike out seven in falling to 5-6. Crichton slipped to 31-25.
"He's thrown very well against us twice," Hunt said of Phillips. "We've had a lot of trouble with the breaking ball. He handcuffed our hitters all night. We just couldn't get a good swing against him."
In Thursday's earlier games, Trevecca bounced Bethel 12-6 and Lyon scored three times in the ninth to oust Union 8-5.
In games today, the Bulldogs face an early wakeup call for a 10 a.m. meeting with Lyon, followed by Crichton against Trevecca at 1 p.m. Should Cumberland win, the Dawgs would play for the championship at 4 p.m. today with still a loss to spare. A Bulldog loss would extend the tournament into Saturday.
Today's schedule was adjusted from what was first announced immediately following the game as Cumberland was set to play at noon, Trevecca at 4 p.m. and the possible championship game at 7.
But in a twist not reflected in any of the possible scenarios on the conference's bracket sheet, should Crichton and Lyon lose today, they would play each other in a 7 p.m. game tonight to determine the third TranSouth team to advance to the NAIA Region XI tournament. Cumberland and Trevecca are already assured places into the regional next week at Georgetown, Ky., essentially leaving the Scots and Comets playing for the TSC's third berth. The change was reportedly suggested by the Lyon and Crichton coaches and agreed to by the league commissioner.
Cumberland's game will be broadcast live on 1490 AM with the pregame beginning at 9:30 a.m.