GREENWOOD – Colby Painter hit a grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning, rallying the No. 4 Lander Bearcats to a Game 2 victory and a double-header split against Peach Belt Conference rival Francis Marion University Sunday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.
The Patriots rallied from a 7-2 deficit to win the opener 10-7 and led 5-2 going into the bottom of the eighth of the nightcap. But Painter's dramatic grand slam capped a five-run eighth, propelling Lander to a 7-5 victory.
The Bearcats won the three-game series two games to one, including a 12-3 victory on Saturday. Lander is 19-3 overall and 9-3 in the Peach Belt. Francis Marion is 10-9, 3-6.
Trailing 5-2 going into the bottom of the eighth and in danger of being swept, the Bearcats rallied on two hit batsmen, two walks, and one big hit. Francis Marion starting pitcher Jordy Santak hit leadoff batter Erik Lunde with a pitch but retired the next two batters. He walked Thomas Berry and the Patriots brought in reliever Jeremy Hatfield, who recorded the save in Game 1. Hatfield walked Weston Lawing to load the bases, hit Graham Ramos with a pitch to force in a run, then Painter blasted a grand slam to deep right.
It was Painter's fourth homer of the season and was reminiscent of a game-winning blast that he hit in the NCAA Tournament at Mount Olive two years ago. It was Lander's sixth home run in the two games Sunday.
Tyler Broome (1-0) got the win in relief for the Bearcats while Hatfield (0-1) took the loss.
Lander jumped ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning of Game 2 when Patrick Grady homered over the 401-foot sign in center field. It was his third homer of the season.
Francis Marion tied it in the sixth against reliever Cam Hokanson when Marquis Curry walked, Dalton Gress reached on a two-base error and each scored on a wild pitch.
The Patriots jumped ahead with three runs in the seventh when Nicholas McGee singled, Zac Lenns hit an RBI double, Curry drilled a run-scoring single, and Michael Wilson swiped home on a delayed steal for a 5-2 lead.
Bearcats starting pitcher Mason McCullough pitched five innings of one-hit shutout baseball, walking three and hitting Lenns twice while striking out seven. Hokanson allowed four runs in 1.1 innings, Ryan Jones gave up one run in one-third of an inning, and Broome pitched 2.1 innings of shutout relief.
Stanak pitched well for Francis Marion, allowing four runs on only three hits in 7.2 innings, walking five and striking out four. Hatfield allowed three runs on one hit, two walks and one hit batsman.
Lander only had four hits in Game 2, with Grady leading the way with two hits in four trips.
Curry paced Francis Marion in the second game, going 2-for-4.
The Bearcats took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1 on Berry's RBI double off the top of the wall and Ramos's run-scoring single.
Francis Marion pulled within 2-1 in the top of the fifth when David DeWolfe singled and scored on a Lenns RBI single.
But Lander exploded with three homers in the bottom of the fifth, including two back-to-back, for a 5-1 lead. Lewis hit a one-out homer that easily cleared the right-field wall, his seventh of the season. Two batters later, Lawing smacked his second homer of the year, his also sailing over the right field wall. Then Ramos made it back-to-back homers with a shot to left, his second of the season.
The Patriots closed within 5-2 in the top of the sixth despite one runner being cut down at the plate. Curry hit a leadoff single and was thrown out at home on Gress's double into the left field corner. Shortstop Lunde's cutoff throw from left fielder Lawing nailed Curry. Gress scored on DeWolfe's single to right.
The Bearcats pushed their lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Lunde walked and Lewis crushed his eighth homer of the season with a blast that hit the middle of the scoreboard in right.
But Francis Marion rallied with three runs in the seventh, three more in the eighth and two in the ninth to clinch the come-from-behind victory.
McGee doubled to start the Patriots rally in the seventh, Lenns singled, Wilson hit an RBI single, Gress drove in a run with a ground out, and Luke Tollison added a run-scoring single.
Francis Marion scored three more in the eighth, taking an 8-7 lead, again starting with a McGee double. Lenns hit an RBI single, the tying run scored when Curry struck out but reached first on a wild pitch, and Gress delivered the go-ahead run with a single. The inning ended when Curry was caught trying to steal home.
Francis Marion added two insurance runs in the ninth on Cole Morris's RBI double and McGee's run-scoring double.
Lander starter Taylor Alvarez left with the lead, allowing four runs on 10 hits in 6.1 innings, with one walk and one strikeout. Kyle Tate allowed one run on two hits in one-third of an inning. Brandon White (1-1) took the loss, yielding five runs, three earned, on five hits in 1.2 innings. Broome finished with a scoreless two-thirds of an inning.
Patriots Game 1 starter Daniel Barfield pitched only the first inning, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. Chance DuCharme relieved Barfield in the second and allowed three runs on five hits in four innings of work. Gordon Owens, John Rossi, Codi Dix and Hatfield finished up with Ross (1-0) getting the win and Hatfield recording his third save of the season.
McGee was Francis Marion's leading hitter in Game 1, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Lenns and Gress each had three hits and two RBI, and Isaac Davenport and DeWolfe had two hits apiece.
Leading Lander in the opener were Ramos who was 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBI, and Lewis 2-for-5 with two homers and three RBI.