Cumberland plates career-high six runs

Braves' sandwich pick homers, doubles twice on three-hit night

Brett Cumberland hit.344 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 52 games at California this year. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

By Josh Jackson / | July 27, 2016 12:47 AM ET

So far, Brett Cumberland feels pretty good about his pro career.

"It's been great. The Appy League is a good league to start out in, and my teammates are fun -- hanging out with them and playing with them," he said. "I'm playing baseball every day and finally getting paid for it, so I can't complain."

The Braves' sandwich pick in this year's Draft had extra reason to be happy on Tuesday. He homered, doubled twice and drove in a career-high six runs to lead Rookie-level Danville to a 10-8 victory at Johnson City.

"It feels awesome to be able to help the team win. Six RBIs is definitely good because it gives the team a good chance to win and especially in today's game," Cumberland said. "And three hits, it's always good to get a couple of hits."

The 21-year-old catcher out of the University of California boosted his average to .232 with his first three-hit effort. He also threw out two of three would-be basestealers.

"It's fun to catch, especially working with the new guys, because we have a lot of hard throwers on our team," he said. "It's fun. And anytime you can throw out a runner, that's one of the most joyful things of catching."

Cumberland and the D-Braves sat through a 75-minute rain delay before the first pitch, which he said may have spurred them to put up nine runs over the first four innings.

"We just tried to stay focused and got going early," he said. "The rain delay [stunk], there's no way around it. That's Mother Nature doing its course, but anytime you have a rain delay, it can be hard to stay focused."

The switch-hitter was batting left-handed against 19-year-old right-hander Jordan Hicks when he took the Cardinals starter the other way for for a two-run double in the third. He chased Hicks an inning later with an opposite-field three-run jack. Whichever side of the plate he's batting from, he takes the same approach.

"Honestly, I just hit it's where pitched," Cumberland said. "If the timing works out, I hit it [the other] way. That's what I've always tried to do -- go with it where it's pitched. Sometimes it works out that you shoot it that way."

The homer -- Cumberland's third in 21 games as a pro -- put Danville ahead for the first time since it scored in the first. And the California native liked its odds of getting out.

"I knew it had a good chance; it felt real good off bat," he said. "There's a high wall here, so I was running hard. I thought it was gone as soon as I hit it, but then I saw their outfielder [Jonathan Rivera] running and I thought, 'Oh, shoot. It's going to be off the wall.' So I was trucking."

Cumberland knocked in another run with a double to right against righty Estarlin Arias in the eighth.

"That was huge because it was 9-8 for a couple innings," he said. "That extra run was big for us. It gave us the option to do different things in the 'pen and give different guys different opportunities."

Zach Rice (2-0), the Braves' 18th-round pick, allowing an unearned run on two hits and a walk with one strikeout over 1 2/3 innings for the win. Bladimir Matos notched his first save, punching out a pair and allowing two hits and two walks over two frames.

Cardinals 13th-rounder Shane Billings was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI for Johnson City.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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