Two runs in top of 10th turn the tide
COLUMBIA, Ky. – Ricky Coleman and Sam Lind drove in two runs in the 10th inning supporting Kevin P. Greene's 4.2 innings of sparkling relief work, as Cumberland outlasted third-ranked Georgetown College 10-8 in the title game of the Mid-South Conference Championships Wednesday evening at Egnew Park.
Cumberland (40-18) and Georgetown (42-8) will both represent the MSC in the NAIA Championship Opening Round next week, with brackets announced on the NAIA website at 7 p.m. Friday, May 9.
"I'm so proud of our team for never quitting and playing through a lot of adversity," said CU Coach Woody Hunt. "We didn't play very well at times, but we fought hard.
"Georgetown has a very good team, I can see why they've only lost eight games -- they're a very good club. This game was one for the ages."
The championship game featured 12 combined runs by the two teams after the fifth inning and Georgetown’s David Higuera was thrown out at the plate with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, sending the contest to extra innings.
Coleman’s double down the leftfield line plated pinch-runner Zach Cole and Lind followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Chris Hall. Bryan Haney and Hall both walked with one out to start the rally.
Greene (8-1) gutted out the victory, his second of the tournament, working around three unearned runs and giving up seven hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Freshman Andrew Woodfin was in line for the victory after tossing five innings in a start, giving up a three-run homer in the first but settling down to retire 12 of the final 14 batters he faced.
Shaun Meyer (8-1), the third of four Georgetown hurlers, suffered the loss, allowing two runs in three hits in 3.1 innings. Tigers starter Leonard De LaRosa gave up three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts.
Lind finished 4-for-6 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Brady North, Hall and Richie Seaton each collected three hits. Hall also scored three times.
The Tigers jumped out early for the second straight game, this time scoring three times in the first inning.
Duran Elmore led off the inning with a single to center and with two outs, Martin Lemus was hit. Steven Mancilla hooked a hanging curveball just inside the foul pole down the rightfield line, giving Georgetown a 3-0 lead after an inning.
Cumberland got a run back in the second and could have had more, loading the bases to start the inning with singles from Josciel Veras, Justin Byrd and Tyler Anderson. Seaton bounced into a 4-6-3 doubleplay, plating a run, but Byrd was thrown out at the plate trying to score on the play as well and the Bulldogs trailed, 3-1.
Hall beat out an infield single with one out in the third and two batters later Lind belted his third home run of the tournament, a two-run shot to leftcenter, tying the contest at three.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the fifth after a leadoff double by North. Byrd walked with one out before an RBI single through the left side by Anderson, scoring pinch-runner Jarrett Plunkett. Seaton also drove in a run with a single to center, but Anderson was thrown out at the plate to end the inning after a shallow fly ball down the rightfield line by Haney.
Georgetown came right back in the bottom of the inning, with Lemus drilling a line drive over the leftfield wall to start the frame. Armando Lomeli doubled down the rightfield line with one out and Rick Reyes followed with a single to left before a walk to Trey Gross loaded the bases, but Greene induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 doubleplay off the bat of Ryan Rodriguez and CU kept the lead, 5-4.
The Bulldogs added two more runs in the seventh when Hall beat out his second infield single to leadoff and Coleman was hit. North ripped a double just inside the first base bag and into the rightfield corner with one out, plating both runners for a 7-4 advantage.
The Tigers would not go away, though, with Elmore reaching on his own infield single to start the bottom of the inning. He stole second and moved to third on Justin Moore’s groundout to second. Greene struck out Tyler Coker and Lemus lined out to center, but Byrd dropped the ball while battling the sun, allowing the run to score.
Steven Mancilla walked and Lomeli singled on the left side, his fourth hit of the game, but Reyes flew out to center to end the inning without any further damage.
Georgetown took advantage of another CU error to tie the contest in the eighth after a leadoff infield single up the middle by Gross. Moore’s two-out chopper bounced over the glove of North and down the rightfield line for a double, putting runners on second and third. Coker’s grounder looked to end the inning, but it bounced off the glove of Anderson, allowing one run to score, and Lemus followed with a dumper into short center off the end of the bat, plating the tying run for the Tigers.
Through all of that, the biggest excitement was still to come in the ninth inning.
Lind led off the ninth with a single to rightcenter and he reached second on a delayed steal with two outs, a big play in the game. Byrd grounded wide of the first for what appeared to be the final out, but Lemus’ toss to first sailed over the head of Meyers and into the Georgetown dugout, allowing Lind to score on the play.
Again Georgetown came back, taking advantage of walks by Greene.
Lomeli drew a free pass to start the bottom of the ninth, but Reyes’ grounder to first turned into the rare 3-6-1 doubleplay. Gross was hit with two outs and also stole second on a delayed steal. Pinch-hitter David Higuera worked another walk, setting up Elmore, who laced a double into rightcenter.
Gross scored easily on the play, but Seaton made a good throw to Lind, whose throw to the plate was right on the money. Higuera never got to the plate, sliding to the outside and coming up short. Haney applied to tag for the final out of the ninth and hysteria ensued for the next 10 minutes, with Georgetown head coach Micah Baumfield protesting the blocking of the plate and the umpires leaving the field to check the rulebook before returning so the contest could head to extra innings.
Cumberland scored its two runs in the top of the 10th and Greene got two outs before Lemus singled, but Mancilla’s soft liner to second base ended the contest almost four hours later and nearly seven hours after the first game began on Wednesday.