GREENWOOD – Mourning the loss of his grandfather earlier Saturday morning, Connor Lewis honored him with a three-run homer that sparked the No. 4 ranked Lander Bearcats to a Peach Belt Conference double-header sweep over Georgia Regents University at Dolny Stadium. Lander won Saturday's opener 12-3 and the second game 10-2.
The Bearcats improved to 23-3 overall and 12-3 in the Peach Belt. The Jaguars fell to 11-15, 3-9.
The homer by Lewis was his Peach Belt-leading 10th of the season, leaving him one shy of tying the school record for homers in a season with 11 (Lucan Erwin in 2001 and Jordan Owens in 2010) with several games still left in this 2014 season. Lewis was 5-for-7 in the two games with five RBI.
Lander took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning of Game 1. Austin Dunn hit a leadoff single, moved to second on Thomas Bess's bunt, stopped at third on Erik Lunde's ground out, and scored on a wild pitch as Patrick Grady walked. Grady stole second and scored on Lewis's single.
The Bearcats doubled their lead to 4-0 in the sixth. Thomas Berry and Weston Lawing singled and moved to second and third on Graham Ramos's ground out. After Colby Painter was intentionally walked to load the bases, Austin Dunn delivered a two-out, two-run single up the middle.
Georgia Regents ended Alvarez's shutout bid in the top of the seventh when Connor Gilbert singled, advanced to third on Ryan Khan's single, and scored on a Ross Miles sacrifice fly to left.
Lander blew the game open with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, with Lewis's homer being the biggest hit. Lunde started the rally with a double, Grady was hit by a pitch, and Lewis blasted a three-run homer over the fence in right center. Lewis pointed skyward as he crossed the plate, and received a hug from head coach Kermit Smith while entering the dugout. Berry walked, moved to second when Lawing walked, stopped at third on a Ramos single, and scored when Dunn grounded into a fielder's choice, giving the Bearcats an 8-1 lead.
Lunde led off the eighth with a homer to right, his fourth of the season and third consecutive extra-base hit. Lander increased its lead to 10-1 when Grady singled and pinch runner Tyler Wilson moved to second on Berry's ground out, and scored on Lawing's single. Ramos followed with a two-run homer to left, his fourth of the season, making it 12-1.
Georgia Regents scored two runs in the ninth on Ryan Khan's ground out and an RBI single by Miles.
Leading hitters for the Bearcats in Game 1 were Lewis, 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI; Lunde, 3-for-5 with a home run and two doubles; Ramos, 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI; Dunn, 2-for-3 with three RBI; and Lawing, 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Gilbert led the Jaguars in the opener, going 3-for-3. JD Sabo and Hunter Boose were each 2-for-4. Miles was 1-for-3 and drove in two of GRU's three runs.
Alvarez (5-1) pitched a complete game for Lander, allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out three and walking none.
Kip Custer (3-4) took the loss for Georgia Regents, giving up three runs, two earned, on three hits, one walk and two strikeouts in four innings. Tristan Jones, David Bermudez and Trey McAvoy finished up.
The Bearcats picked up where they left off in Game 1 with three runs in the bottom of the first of the nightcap. Lunde singled up the middle for his fourth consecutive hit on the day, Lewis was hit by a pitch, and Lawing launched his third homer of the season over the wall in right center for a 3-0 lead.
Lander doubled its lead to 6-0 in the second. Chris Hyatt walked, moved to second when Wilson was hit by a pitch, and scored on Grady's single to center. Lewis hit a run-scoring single for his fifth RBI of the day, and Berry added a sacrifice fly.
Georgia Regents broke up the shutout when Bryson Stack hit a two-run single in the top of the fourth, pulling the Jaguars within 6-2.
The Bearcats got those two runs back in the bottom of the fourth. Grady was hit by a pitch, Lewis walked, Berry hit an RBI single, Lawing walked, and Ramos hit a sacrifice fly to left with Lewis just beating the throw home for an 8-2 lead.
Lander increased its lead to 10-2 in the fifth, scoring twice on a two-out error by the shortstop on a ball hit by Ramos.
McCullough (3-0) worked five innings for the victory, allowing two runs on five hits while walking four, hitting one batter and striking out eight while consistently throwing in the mid-90s. Cam Hokanson, Kyle Tate, Bryce Clifton and Johnny Walker each pitched a scoreless inning out of the Bearcats bullpen.
Jamie Suggs (0-1) took the loss, allowing five runs on two hits, one walk and three hit batters. Clint Echols and Tyler Brown finished up for the Jaguars. Brown gave up two runs, but none earned, over the final five innings.
Leading hitters in Game 2 for Lander were Lewis, 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs; Lunde, 2-for-5; Grady, 1-for-4 with four runs scored; Lawing, 1-for-3 with a homer and three RBI; and Berry, 1-for-4 with two RBI.
Miles and Tyler Roberts had two hits apiece for GRU.