CARY, N.C. – The Lander baseball team's season of records came to an end Wednesday.
After winning an unbelievable 52 games; the Peach Belt Conference regular-season and tournament titles; and the Southeast Regional crown; the No. 3-ranked Bearcats were eliminated from the NCAA Championship Tournament by top-ranked Tampa, 7-3, at the USA Baseball National Training Center.
Lander opened the tournament with a 6-4 win over No. 5 Chico State on Saturday, then fell to No. 6 Southern Indiana, 6-5, on Monday.
Tampa, which improves to 53-3, will face Southern Indiana at 7 p.m., Thursday, in an upper bracket game. The championship game is set for 7 p.m., Saturday.
The Spartans Preston Packrall remained unbeaten on the mound at 11-0 after he struck out three, walked two and allowed three earned runs on 10 hits in 6.1 innings. Kevin McNorton was credited with his 12th save of the season in 2.2 innings of work.
Lander's Taylor Alvarez (11-3) suffered the loss, striking out one, walking one and allowing five earned runs on seven hits in 1.1 innings. Brandon White, who has 12 saves this year, struck out two, walked one and allowed just one hit in the final four innings.
The Spartans took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Sean O'Brien and Giovanny Alfonzo both had RBI singles that scored Orlando Rivera and Tyler Ding respectively.
Tampa extended its lead to 5-0 in the second on back-to-back RBI singles by Stephen Dezzi and Ding, and a fielder's choice RBI by O'Brien.
Both teams scored one run in the fourth as Tampa's Alfonzo's RBI single plated O'Brien and Lander's Erik Lunde drove in Painter.
The Spartans made it 7-3 in the fifth on Connor Obrochta's solo homer to left.
Berry batted 2-for-4 for the Bearcats.
For the Spartans, Ding, O'Brien and Nick Tindall had two hits apiece.