No. 2 Lander takes over first place with 3-2 victory

Lander second baseman Graham Ramos snags a ball against Armstrong Atlantic Friday night at Dolny Stadium. (Photo by Bob Stoner)
Lander second baseman Graham Ramos snags a ball against Armstrong Atlantic Friday night at Dolny Stadium. (Photo by Bob Stoner)
GREENWOOD – Connor Lewis and Patrick Grady broke school records and the No. 2 Lander Bearcats took over sole possession of first place in the Peach Belt Conference with a 3-2 victory over Armstrong Atlantic State Friday night in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd at Dolny Stadium.

Lander improved to 41-6 overall and 22-6 in the conference, moving one game ahead of Columbus State which lost 7-6 to North Georgia Friday.

Armstrong fell to 25-16, 15-13.

The teams will play a double-header Saturday, starting at 2 o'clock to close out the regular season.

Connor Lewis had two singles to break the school record for total bases in a season with 134, edging Jesse Barbaro's total of 133 set in 2007.

Grady smacked his 23rd double of the season, surpassing Barbaro's total of 22 also set in 2007.

Also, Lander's Thomas Berry walked for the 47th time, tying Robert Skinner's school record from 2011.

Bearcats starting pitcher Dylan Wolchik (9-1) got the win and Brandon White recorded his 10th save.

Armstrong took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Cody Sherlin singled, moved to second on Tyler Avera's sacrifice bunt, stopped at third on Clayton Miller's ground out, and scored on a single by R.J. Dennard.

Lander took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Thomas Bess started the rally by beating out a slow roller to shortstop, stopped at second when Erik Lunde walked, and scored on Patrick Grady's single to right. Lewis's RBI single up the middle gave the Bearcats the lead, and Thomas Berry laid down a suicide squeeze bunt single to score Grady with the third run of the inning. Mitchell Dolan relieved Pirates starting pitcher Ryan Good with the bases loaded and one out, and retired the next two batters to escape what could have been a much bigger inning.

The Pirates had a big threat in the top of the eighth and pulled within 3-2. Dalton Johnson reached on an infield single and moved to second on Sherlin's single to right center. Kyle Tate relieved Wolchik with two on and two out, allowing Miller's RBI single. White relieved Tate and faced Armstrong's top hitter Dennard, and struck him out looking with a pitch on the outside corner.

White retired the side order in the ninth to close out Lander's 41st victory of the season.

Wolchik allowed two runs on five hits in 7.2 innings, striking out seven and walking two.

Lewis and Grady led the Bearcats with two hits apiece while Sherlin and Dennard led Armstrong with two hits apiece.