On senior day for the Bluefield College baseball team, Cumberland University pitcher Kevin P. Greene had to face all four BC seniors among the final six batters to come up against him.
He retired all four, preserving a 4-2 win for the Bulldogs on Saturday evening in the deciding game of their three-game series with the Rams at Bowen Field.
Bluefield won Friday night 7-6 in 12 innings, and lost the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 12-1 in eight innings. (See story, C-2.)
Senior Tyler Lundgren gave Bluefield (30-14, 11-12 Mid-South) a 1-0 lead in the finale when he knocked Greene’s seventh pitch of the day over the right-center wall in the first inning.
Greene had given up just one home run in 49 2/3 innings this year prior to Lundgren’s homer.
Jakob Schober followed with a two-out single up the middle, and senior Jacob Wright and Sawyer McLamb walked to load the bases. Dan Copeland drew a walk for an easy RBI and the Rams led 2-0. Little did the home team know that they would not score again.
Lundgren said, “It was early in the game. I knew if I would get something up, elevated, I was going to hit it as hard as I can.”
“I wanted us to get a little head start, (and) keep it rolling throughout the game, but we stagnated a little bit, and let them hang around.”
Greene threw 37 pitches to get through the first frame of the game, but threw no more than 16 in the other six innings. After the first inning, he held the Bluefield attack to three singles, by Lundgren, by senior Zac Russell-Myers and by Tyler Timmer.
Cumberland (32-17, 14-9) head coach Woody Hunt left Bluefield with win No. 1,434 in his amazing baseball coaching career, which includes two NAIA national championships and 11 World Series appearances.
“I’m proud of the team for bouncing back,” he said about the Bulldogs. “I was a little worried because they (the Rams) were really swinging the bat.”
Hunt said, “Our pitcher did a good job after that (first inning). They’ve got a good-hitting ballclub.”
Cumberland’s Ricky Coleman delivered a two-out RBI grounder past second base in the third to score courtesy runner Zach Cole, trimming the lead to 2-1.
Joseiel Veras led off the fourth with a double that bounced off the fence in front of the left-field flagpole. After time was called, the officiating corps awarded him third base, apparently due to fielder’s interference.
That got Bluefield College head coach Mike White out of the dugout to protest. The plate umpire stared at him as he returned to the dugout, and less than a minute later, White was ejected from the game.
It was the turning point of the finale.
The next batter, Brady North, lofted a sacrifice fly and Veras scored easily to tie the contest. Justin Byrd then walked on five pitches, Tyler Anderson doubled, and Richie Seaton gave the Bulldogs the lead with a single that scorched over third base and got Byrd home.
McLamb generated a double play to close out the top of the fourth without any additional damage, but that stanza ended the day for Bluefield starting pitcher Ryan Shockey after 74 pitches.
On Friday night, Shockey had pitched three innings, picking up the win in the 12-inning series opener.
Bluefield College assistant coach Ryan Lambert said, “Shockey went out there and threw very well last night. Today, he was a little taxed, but he competed hard and did just what we wanted him to do.”
Shockey gave up six hits and three earned runs, walking two and striking out two. Cory Niten handled the fifth and sixth innings and Dylan Cole was on the mound for the scoreless seventh.
Cumberland’s Hunt said, “We’ve struggled in the conference. We’ve had only one sweep on the road. Getting two out of three is a good win for us.”
Lambert said Cumberland was a “historic program.”
“They have one of the best coaches in the game. They do it the right way. They’re a first class program, an extremely competitive program.”
With the win, the Bulldogs climbed into a tie for second place in the conference standings.
Bluefield was denied the opportunity to give its seniors a victory in their last two college games at Bowen Field, after recognizing Russell-Myers, Lundgren, Jacob Wright and Kahlin Villines in a pregame ceremony complete with the presentation of framed jerseys.
Lambert said, “The four seniors have kind of rebuilt the program the way it was in ’09 and ’10. ... We’re grateful to them for helping in the rebuilding of the tradition and character of our program.”
“They’re a great group of ballplayers but that doesn’t compare to how great people they have been off the field.”
Lundgren and Wright sat side by side in the BC dugout after their final home game with dazed expressions. Lundgren snapped out of it and responded pleasantly when asked for comments.
“I can’t be more pleased with this team,” he said. “We’ve brought in a bunch of hard-nosed players (who) want to hit the ground running. We don’t want to lose; we want to win it. It’s a huge credit to our coaches and our recruiting.”
Lundgren said about his time with his fellow seniors, “It’s a great honor. These guys are good guys. These guys want to win.”
“I’m sort of sad to see it end, but I’ll have good memories, of good teammates.”
The Rams conclude the regular season with three road games next weekend at Campbellsville, Ky.
Bluefield dropped to seventh place in the 10-team conference Saturday, but with a week left, the Rams are still within striking distance of the three teams in front of them — including Campbellsville (25-17, 13-10).
— Contact Tom Bone at
At Bowen Field
Cumberland Univ......001 201 0 — 4 9 1
Bluefield College......200 000 0 — 2 5 0
Kevin P. Greene and Bryan Haney. Ryan Shockey, Cory Niten (5), Dylan Cole (7) and Tyler Lundgren. WP - Greene. LP - Shockey. HR - Lundgren, 1st, 0 on.