GREENWOOD - After a celebratory ring ceremony to commemorate the 2014 Lander baseball team's championship season, the No. 3-ranked Bearcats won their home opener Friday evening when they cruised past North Greenville, 17-4, in a non-conference game at Dolny Stadium.
The Bearcats improve to 3-1 overall, while North Greenville drops to 0-2. The ceremony was in honor of the players who led Lander to the Peach Belt Conference regular-season and tournament championships, along with the Southeast Regional title that gave the Bearcats an automatic berth into the College World Series.
Lander's Joe Mackey (1-0) earned the win on the mound, striking out four, walking one and allowing four earned runs on seven hits in seven complete innings.
North Greenville's Caleb Henley (0-1) took the loss after striking out two, walking four and allowing five earned runs on one hit in one inning of work.
The Crusaders took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Jay Roberts RBI single and Andrew Locklear's sacrifice fly.
The Bearcats rallied for six runs on two hits in the second inning to take a lead they would never relinquish. Weston Lawing, who reached on a double, got the scoring started when he went home on a North Greenville field error. Zach Daly and John Mangum scored on a bases-loaded walks, Alex Conaway went home after Zach Giczewski got hit by a pitch, Colby Painter drove in Will Jones with a sacrifice fly and Giczewski finalized the scoring on Lawing's RBI single.
Lander stretched the lead to 8-2 in the third after Mangum scored on Giczewski's groundout and Chris Hyatt singled in Jones.
Giczewski stroked a two-run double in the fourth that plated Jones and Mangum for a 10-2 advantage. The scoring continued for Lander in the fifth as Thomas Berry drove in Painter with a groundout to second base.
The Crusaders cut the margin to 11-3 in the sixth on Taylor McCuen's sacrifice fly that plated Wheeler Smith.
Jones put Lander up 14-3 in the sixth after he scored on a Crusader throwing error, then Lawing and Daly added RBI singles that sent Hyatt and Painter home.
Jay Roberts put North Greenville on the scoreboard in the seventh with a solo homerun over the left field fence.
But Lander came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning after Conaway made it 15-4 when he advanced on wild pitch and Reed Gray later crossed the plate on Giczewski's groundout.
For Lander, Lawing batted 4-for-4, with two RBI, Painter 3-for-4 with one RBI, Will Jones 3-for-6 and Giczewski 1-for-4 with five RBI.
Roberts went 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Crusaders.