The Bulldogs hosted another nationally ranked team, Cumberland University (15th), this weekend for a three game series. Tennessee Wesleyan won two out of the three games, 1-0 on Friday and 7-3 on Saturday. The Bulldogs were defeated 5-2 in eight innings in the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday.
In the first game, Corey Rhoney was touched for a first-pitch single, but then retired 17 consecutive Cumberland batters before giving up a bunt hit with two outs in the sixth and the runner taking second on a throwing error. The senior righthander, however, struck out the next hitter. The Bulldogs got a leadoff single from Trey Griffin in the second, but lined into an inning-ending double play. Branden Walker and Travis Burnside had back-to-back two-out singles in the third before the inning closed with a fly ball. A failed steal attempt in the fourth frame short-circuited a rally after Griffin again singled and a walk put runners at first and second with one out. TWC finally broke through in the sixth. Burnside singled, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored what would prove to be the game's only run on Jake Stone's double. The next nine Bulldogs went in order. Cumberland put the tying run at second with one-out doubles in both the seventh and eighth innings, but each time Rhoney and the defense retired the next two batters.
A flyball to center and infield ground out set the stage for a running one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch by shortstop Wes Minton in shallow left field to end the game.
In the first game on Saturday, Wesleyan junior left-hander Brian Bardis and Cumberland's Anthony Gomez were locked in a scoreless duel through the first five innings. That ended in the sixth. Bardis struck out the leadoff hitter with a pitch in the dirt, but the runner reached when the ball also bounced away from catcher Brackton Smith. A two-run homer followed. Wesleyan answered in the bottom of the inning. Josh McCray singled and Branden Walker bunted his way aboard with a wild throw putting runners at second and third. Burnside's ground out and Brad Carpenter's sacrifice fly tied the score at two. Both teams had a chance to win in the seventh with Brady Frey coming on to relieve Bardis. An error and single put Cumberland runners at first and third with nobody out. Frey, however, struck out the next hitter before Stone snagged a liner at third and doubled the runner off first to end the inning.
In the home half, Griffin led off with a drive to the fence in center field, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. Noah Piard replaced Frey after a leadoff walk in the 8th. A sacrifice bunt, intentional walk and fly ball followed. With two outs, back-to-back singles got a run home and brought Sprenger to the mound. An error and walk plated two more runs.
Brian Bardis went six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The Bulldogs were out-hit, 11-5.
Cumberland used a leadoff single and two-out passed balls to take a 1-0 lead off Wesleyan starter Jarrod Jameson in the first inning of the second game. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Stone and Minton sandwiched home runs around a walk to give the 'Dogs a 3-1 lead. In the decisive second, Smith walked and three consecutive errors produced another run. A hit-batsman and fourth fielding miscue by Cumberland plated two more runs and Wesleyan led, 6-1. Jameson walked the leadoff hitter and gave up the only other hit he would allow in the game, but the home run cut the gap to 6-3. Wesleyan added a run in the sixth on Stone's single and Minton's double.
Tyler Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 seventh with a strikeout. Jameson went six innings, surrendering three runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. The Bulldogs had seven hits, two each from Stone and Minton.
The Bulldogs travel to Georgetown, KY to play on Wednesday at 3:00 pm before returning home for another conference series next weekend. A doubleheader on Saturday starts at 1:00 pm and then a single nine inning game starts at 2:00 pm on Sunday.