GREENWOOD – Red-shirt freshman shortstop Zach Giczewski hit a walk-off RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 as the 20th ranked Lander Bearcats rallied from a four-run deficit to complete a double-header sweep over non-conference foe North Greenville University Saturday at Dolny Stadium.
Lander (7-0) completed a three-game series sweep, winning 16-9 at North Greenville on Friday, taking Game 1 of the double-header on Saturday afternoon 9-3, then rallying from a 6-2 deficit to win the second game 7-6.
North Greenville fell to 1-5.
The Bearcats trailed 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning of Saturday's Game 2 when they scored three runs without the benefit of a hit, drawing four walks and two hit batsmen.
Lander reliever Brandon White (1-0) then shut North Greenville down over the last two innings, striking out five of six and setting the stage for the winning rally in the bottom of the ninth.
After the first two Bearcats were retired in the bottom of the ninth, Graham Ramos hit a two-out single up the middle off Ryan Woodring (0-2), his fourth hit of the double-header. Ramos scored easily on Giczewski's triple into the left-center gap that rolled to the fence, setting off a celebration near the third-base line.
North Greenville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Game 1 when Stephen Cantrell singled, continued to second on an error, and scored on a double play. It was Lander's first deficit of the season.
Lander added four runs in the fourth as Poole singled, Erik Lunde walked and Grady was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Weston Lawing was hit by a pitch to plate one run, two more scored when Thomas Berry reached on an error by the second baseman, and Ramos singled home the fourth run, giving the Bearcats a 7-1 lead.
Jessep Polk's two-run homer over the left-field fence pulled North Greenville within 7-3 in the top of the seventh.
Lander got those two runs back in the bottom of the seventh when Grady walked, Berry singled, and Ramos lined a two-run single to score Grady and pinch runner Will Porter to make it 9-3.
Bearcats starting pitcher Taylor Alvarez (2-0) got the win, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits in 7.2 innings. He walked two, hit one batter and struck out three while benefitting from four double plays turned by the Lander infield.
Tyler Broome pitched the final 1.1 innings for the Bearcats, allowing no runs on one hit with one strikeout while benefitting from the infield's fifth double play.
Crusaders starting pitcher Matt Laurens (0-2) took the loss, allowing seven runs, three earned, in 4.1 innings of work. He gave up six hits, walked five, hit three batters and struck out four but was also affected by three errors behind him.
Patrick Busscher pitched the final 3.2 innings for North Greenville, giving up two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out four.
Leading hitters in Game 1 for the Bearcats were Ramos, 2-for-5 with three RBI; Giczewski, 2-for-5; and Poole, 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI.
Tyler Mitchell and Cantrell each went 2-for-4 in Game 1 for North Greenville.
The Crusaders also took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Game 2 when Polk doubled to the fence in left center and scored on Allen Staton's single to left.
North Greenville increased its lead to 4-0 in the third. Drew Lipscombe hit a leadoff triple off the top of the right field wall, Cantrell and Polk smacked RBI doubles, and Foley George added an RBI single, ending Lander starting pitcher Chess Malone's day.
Lander cut its deficit in half with two runs in the bottom of the third when Dunn was hit by a pitch, Lunde tripled, and Grady hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field.
The Crusaders padded their lead to 6-2 in the top of the fifth when Polk singled, Staton walked, George hit a run-scoring double (Staton was thrown out at the plate), and Chuck Lawing hit an RBI double.
The Bearcats had a big opportunity to get back into the game in the bottom of the fifth when Lunde hit a leadoff double, stopped at third on Grady's single, and scored on Lewis's single. But the next two hitters popped up and hit into a double play, leaving Lander with a 6-3 deficit.
The Crusaders had a chance to increase their lead in the top of the sixth when Lipscombe led off with North Greenville's sixth double of the game and was bunted over to third. But Bearcats reliever Kyle Tate settled down, and after walking Polk, left two runners stranded.
The Bearcats tied it three runs in the bottom of the seventh without the benefit of a hit. After starting pitcher Staton struck out the first hitter, he was replaced on the mound by Eric Hertel. Grady was hit by a pitch, and Lewis and Weston Lawing walked to load the bases. Woodring entered with the bases loaded and two outs, and he walked Painter and Ramos, and hit Giczewski, forcing home three runs.
After Lander reliever White stuck out the side in the top of the eighth, the Bearcats had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Grady hit a one-out double to left and moved to third on a balk, but he was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch.
But after White struck out two of three in the top of the ninth, Ramos and Giczewski put together the two-out winning rally.
Leading hitters in Game 2 for the Bearcats were Lunde 3-for-5, with a single, double and triple; Grady, 2-for-3; and Lewis and Ramos 2-for-4.
Leading hitters for North Greenville were Polk 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs, George 2-for-4 with two RBI, Staton 2-for-4, and Lipscomb 2-for-3 with a double and triple.
Lander's Malone pitched only 2.1 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Hokanson allowed two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings, striking out five and walking two. Relievers Tate and White each pitched two shutout innings.
Crusaders Game 2 starter Staton pitched an outstanding game, allowing three runs on six hits in 6.1 innings, striking out nine and walking one.