PORTSMOUTH – Baseball dropped both ends of its doubleheader on Saturday against Cumberland University, 4-1 and 12-5. The Bears (14-12, 3-3 MSC) had eight hits in each game but just could not push the runs across when they needed them. The two wins on Saturday gave the Bulldogs (12-6-1, 5-1 MSC) a sweep of the Bears during the three-game weekend series.
The opening game saw Cody Strayer concede a run in each of the first two innings but he bounced right back and did not allow another until the ninth as the Bears clawed to within one before the Bulldogs added two more during Strayer's complete game effort. In game two, the visitors scored in each of the first six innings but the Bears were hanging in at 5-2 and had the bases loaded with nobody out in the third but a triple play would end that threat. Things would get even worse as the Bulldogs came back with five runs in the top of the fourth to break the game open.
Cumberland started quickly in the first inning of the opening game as back-to-back doubles by the first two hitters who attacked early in the count put them up 1-0. Another leadoff double in the second inning for Cumberland was moved to third on a groundout before an RBI single gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Over the next six innings, Strayer would not allow another run to cross the plate. During three of those six innings he faced the minimum with help of a double play on one occasion and two times when he set the Bulldogs down in order. The Bears only run during the first game came on Cody Spires' second home run of the season over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth.
The Bulldogs would add two more in the ninth inning on a pair of two-out hits in the 4-1 victory as the Bulldogs' Anthony Gomez improved to 5-0 on the season with his seven inning outing before giving way to Evin Einhardt who pitched the final two innings for the save. Strayer went the full nine innings and struck out six.
Things also started out rough for the SSU pitching staff in game two as Cumberland worked four walks and was hit by another pitch in just the first inning alone but had a runner thrown out stealing and left the bases loaded with a 1-0 lead after the top of the first. The Bears took the lead in the bottom half when Calvin Sluberski reached on an error and a Spires double put two in scoring position. Joe Henderson's sacrifice fly would bring the leadoff home while a two-out RBI single by Daniel Katayama gave the Bears a 2-1 lead after a full inning.
Control problems continued to plaque the Bears in the second inning as a leadoff walk stole second before scoring on a double and tying the game at two-all. The Bulldogs added two more in the third to take a 4-1 lead but the Bears looked poised to cut into the lead when Sluberski, Spires and Henderson hit three straight singles to load the bases for Colin Keim with nobody out. Keim went the other way with his pitch but a great diving effort by the right fielder was ruled a catch and the Bears were all hung out to dry on the bases, killing the rally with the triple play. The SSU coaching staff argued the call of the catch, but to no avail, although SSU was awarded a run on what the umpires deemed a forced timing run.
Things continued to spiral downward in the top of the fourth when Cumberland added five more runs on just three hits to take a 9-3 lead. The Bears got two back in the bottom of the fourth after back-to-back walks by Katayama and Ryan Queener were scored on a Charles Matsunami sacrifice fly and Brady Hightchew doubles. However, those would also be the final two runs on the afternoon for the Bears as the visitors added another run in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Baseball will play another non-conference doubleheader at home this Wednesday at noon vs. preseason No. 6 Point Park before another MSC battle with Rio Grande next weekend.