Pitcher Cumbess' performance helps Kentucky upset third-ranked Cal
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kentucky junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess allowed only two runs, while also belting two hits at the plate, including driving in the game-winning RBI, to open UK’s 2013 season in style with a 3-2 nine-inning win against No. 3 California in the Kajikawa Classic on Friday.
Junior Cumbess started the game in the circle, throwing nine innings, giving up only two runs -- both earned -- on six hits with six strikeouts and only four walks. At the plate, Cumbess went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including the game-winning single in the top of the ninth inning.
After senior Alice O’Brien started the top of the ninth on second base due to international tiebreak rules, freshman Nikki Sagermann placed a sacrifice bunt to advance O’Brien to third. Cumbess followed with a single to left field to score O’Brien and give UK the lead 3-2.
Cumbess had to work out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth to conserve the victory. After LaRisa Jones started the inning on second base, Cumbess got centerfielder Jasmin Mejia to pop up for the first out and then Vanessa Alvarez struck out looking for the second out. Cheyenne Cordes singled through to left field to put runners on the corners, but Cumbess got Ashley Decker to strike out to end the game and give UK the win.
The victory against a ranked foe is the 32nd versus a top-25 team for UK under head coach Rachel Lawson and the 11th against a top-five team. UK’s previous lone win against Cal came on May 28 in the 2011 Lexington Super Regional when Cal was ranked fifth nationally. Cal still leads the all-time series against the two teams 3-2.
All five players at the top of UK’s order earned hits in the game, while Cumbess was the lone player to earn a multi-hit game for UK. Kara Dill, O’Brien, Sagermann and Ginny Carroll each went 1-for-3 in the game with Dill scoring a run and O’Brien scoring two runs. Carroll earned her first RBI of the season in the fourth inning.
Cal’s star pitcher Jolene Henderson also threw nine innings, allowing three runs -- two earned -- on six hits with seven strikeouts. Cordes led the way offensively with a 2-for-3 outing, while Mejia went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Cal got on the board first in the game in the bottom of the second inning, getting a two-run single down the right field line by Mejia. The inning started when Breana Kostreba was hit by a pitch, later advancing to second on the sacrifice bunt by Victoria Jones. Jordan Wallace then singled to center field, advancing Kostreba to third. After Wallace advanced to second, Mejia placed a single down the line to score two and give Cal the 2-0 lead. Cumbess walked the next batter before getting Cordes to strike out looking to end the inning.
Kentucky answered in the top of the fourth inning, getting a run on an infield single from Carroll. The inning started with Dill singling to the second baseman, before O’Brien singled to right field, advancing to second on the throw to third. With runners on second and third and no outs, freshman Nikki Sagermann struck out looking followed by a sharp groundout by Lauren Cumbess. Carroll then hit a sharp ball to the second baseman, scoring Dill. Carroll earned the single, but O’Brien was called out at the plate trying to score.
UK tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, getting a clutch two-out hit from Cumbess. After freshman Maisie Steed and Dill grounded out to start the frame, O’Brien got the rally started by drawing a walk. Sagermann then collected her first career hit with a single to center field, advancing O’Brien to second. After Kara Howard pinch ran for Sagermann, Cumbess knocked a single up the middle, scoring O’Brien and tying the game at two. Carroll struck out to end the inning.
Cumbess threw a scoreless bottom of the sixth and both pitchers pitched scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings to set up the dramatic UK win in the ninth.