AIKEN – Weston Lawing had a solo home run and Graham Ramos scored on an error in the eighth inning Sunday afternoon to lead the top-seeded Lander baseball team to a 10-9 semifinal-round victory over fourth-seeded Georgia College in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament hosted by USC Aiken at Roberto Hernandez Stadium.
Lander (46-6), the No. 2-ranked team in the country which has won 16 straight games, advances to the championship game later today against the No. 6 Armstrong Atlantic/No. 7 Montevallo winner. Georgia College drops to 34-15. The tournament champion earns an automatic berth into the Southeast Regional Tournament, May 15-18, at a yet to be determined site.
Lander is making its second appearance in three years in the PBC Tournament championship game.
The Bearcats' Cam Hokanson (4-1) earned the victory in relief after striking out one, walking two and allowing one earned run on one hit in one inning of work. Brandon White picked up his 11th save of the season after striking out one and walking two in two innings.
Bearcat starter Mason McCullough struck out seven and walked five, while giving up two earned runs on one hit in five innings.
Georgia College's Jordan Modine (2-2) took the loss with one strikeout and one earned run on one hit in 1.1 innings.
Lander took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first after Erik Lunde walked and later stole home, then Connor Lewis blasted his fourth homer of the tournament, a two-run shot. It was Lewis' 20th homer of the year.
The Bearcats upped the score to 4-0 in the third when Lawing's sacrifice fly plated Patrick Grady.
After GC's Brandon Benson and Ryan Sabalaskey walked in the third, Lander manufactured a rare triple play when shortstop Lunde fielded a line drive, tagged second then threw Sabalaskey out at first.
Georgia College trimmed the margin to 4-2 in the fourth on Taylor Hinshaw's two-run homer.
Lander retaliated with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to take a 7-2 advantage. Thomas Berry drove in Grady and Berry later scored on a passed ball in the fifth, while Lunde went home on Lawing's RBI single in the sixth.
GC added one run in the sixth to make it 7-3.
After Lander added one run in the seventh on Grady's RBI single, the Bobcats rallied for five runs and tied the contest at 8-8 in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back, two-run doubles by Sabalaskey and Rob Hogenkamp, and an RBI groundout by Hogenkamp.
For Lander, Berry and Lawing had three hits each, while Lewis had two.
Hogenkamp had two hits for the Bobcats.