Flagler downs Lander baseball in series' first game

Patrick Grady
Patrick Grady

GREENWOOD – Kyle Foti hit a two-run homer and Brett Moreland had three hits including a two-run triple, leading Flagler College to a 6-3 Peach Belt Conference victory over the Lander Bearcats Saturday night at Dolny Stadium.

The Saints improved to 24-19 overall and 11-14 in the Peach Belt. Lander fell to 29-16, 13-12.

Lander's home finale will be Sunday when the Bearcats host Flagler in a double-header, starting at 1 o'clock. It will be the final home games for Lander seniors AJ Nunziato, Kevin Childs, Jordan Owens, Cory Hopper, Michael White, Todd Hughson, Ben Runyon, Scott Elitzky, Ross Davis and Ches Courtney.

The Bearcats are battling UNC Pembroke for the final spot in the Peach Belt baseball tournament as UNC-P is 14-14 in the league after losing twice to Armstrong Atlantic State Saturday.

Flagler took a 4-0 lead in the top of the second with a pair of two-run hits. Devon Hellet singled and Foti hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence, his seventh home run of the season. Nate Fudala singled, Cade Smith walked, and Moreland blasted a two-run triple past right fielder Patrick Grady's diving catch attempt.

Lander answered with three runs in the third with three extra-base hits. Aaron Poole doubled off the left-field wall and scored on Erik Lunde's triple to right. Grady followed with a long home run over the wall in left-center, his fourth homer of the season.

After four scoreless innings, the Saints added two big runs in the eighth for a 6-3 lead. Moreland singled, Jay Laurienzo walked, John Sgromolo hit an RBI single to right, and Hellett laid down a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze bunt to plate another run.

Lander brought the tying run to the plate with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth after Flagler reliever Micah Kellogg walked Poole and Ian Harvey. But Saints closer Max Rusch entered the game and shut the door, striking out two and getting the final out on a grounder to first.

Danny Brown (4-2) was the winning pitcher for Flagler, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three. Kellogg allowed one hit in two innings, striking out two and walking two. Rusch collected his eighth save with a perfect inning.

Hughson (2-3) took the loss for the Bearcats, allowing four runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out four. White allowed two runs in 1.2 innings of relief while Elitzky retired the only batter he faced.

Flagler's leading hitters were Moreland, 3-for-4 with two RBI; and Foti, 1-for-4 with a homer and two RBI.

Grady led Lander, going 1-for-3 with a homer and two RBI.