TIGERVILLE, S.C. – The third-ranked Lander Bearcats bounced back from blowing an eight-run lead to win the first game in extra innings but had a huge rally fall short in the nightcap as they split a non-conference baseball double-header Saturday at North Greenville University.
Lander won the opener 14-11 in 10 innings at Ashmore Field before dropping the second game 12-8.
The Bearcats were down by eight runs going into the ninth inning of Game 2 but managed to bring the tying run to the plate. Colby Painter nearly tied the game with a grand slam, but his fly ball sailed over the fence only a few feet foul in right field. He eventually struck out swinging to end the game.
Lander is 4-2 while the Crusaders are 1-3.
North Greenville's Landon Powell earned his first career victory as a coach. The former South Carolina Gamecocks catcher also played Major League baseball and is one of only 20 players to ever catch a perfect game (May 9, 2010, Dallas Braden, Oakland Athletics).
The Lawing brothers – Weston Lawing for Lander and Chuck Lawing for North Greenville – each homered Saturday.
The Bearcats also got a three-run homer from Zach Daly in the second game.
Lander scored two runs in the top of the first inning of Game 1 with the help of three hit batsmen. Chris Hyatt was hit, Painter singled, Weston Lawing got hit, Daly reached on an RBI fielder's choice, and Reed Gray was hit by a pitch to force home the second run.
The Bearcats increased their lead to 3-0 in the second when Zach Giczewski singled, moved to second on Hyatt's single, and scored on Painter's double.
Lander increased its lead to 8-0 in the top of the sixth with five runs on only two hits while benefitting from two errors and three walks. Hyatt hit into a run-scoring fielder's choice, Daly walked with the bases loaded, Thomas Berry drove home two runs, and John Mangum's infield single produced the final run of the inning.
But the Crusaders pulled within 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth with four runs on two hits and two errors. Josh Sealey's triple scored two of the runs. The Bearcats escaped further damage by turning one of their three double plays behind starting pitcher Taylor Alvarez.
Lander seemingly put the game away with Lawing's run-scoring single in the seventh and Giczewski's two-out, two-run double in the top of the eighth that increased the lead to 11-4.
But North Greenville stormed back with seven runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 11, with Chuck Lawing hitting a three-run homer to tie it. Andrew Locklear also had a two-run double in the inning.
Lander scored three times in the top of the 10th and held on. Mangum drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Will Jones, and scored on an error by the right fielder. Lawing reached on a fielder's choice to plate the second run of the inning and the third run scored on an error.
Brandon White closed the game out for his first save of the season despite allowing the first two runners to reach in the bottom of the 10th. He struck out the final two batters.
Alvarez allowed four runs, two earned, on nine hits while striking out five and walking one in six innings of work. Matt Thorpe, Jones and White each pitched scoreless relief with Jones (1-0) getting credit for the win while Adam Boghosian (0-1) took the loss.
Leading hitters for the Bearcats in Game 1 were Giczewski and Painter with three hits apiece. Weston Lawing, Hyatt, Giczewski and Berry had two RBI apiece, while Painter scored three runs.
Top hitters for the Crusaders were Allen Staton with three hits and Shaquille Rolle, Drew Lipscomb, Sealey and Locklear with two hits apiece. Chuck Lawing had the homer and three RBI while Sealey and Locklear had two RBI apiece.
Lander took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Game 2 when Giczewski singled, advanced to second when Painter reached on an error, moved to third on Lawing's single, and scored on Daly's sacrifice fly to center.
The Crusaders tied it in the fourth when the first two batters reached on errors, and Tony Davila lifted a sacrifice fly.
North Greenville took a 9-1 lead with four runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Jessep Polk and Taylor McCuen had RBI singles in the fifth, while Staton hit a three-run homer and Rolle added an RBI double in the sixth.
Lander pulled within 9-4 in the seventh when Giczewski walked, Lawing singled, and Daly hit a three-run homer.
North Greenville got its eight-run lead back with three runs in the eighth with two scoring on sacrifice flies by John Leopard and Davila, and a third run coming home on an error.
The Bearcats made things interesting in the ninth. Painter drew a leadoff walk and Weston Lawing homered over the right field fence to pull them within 12-6. Berry reached on a one-out single and Mangum drew a two-out walk. Jones singled and Berry came all the way around on an error by the left fielder. After Giczewski walked to load the bases, Hyatt reached on an error by the shortstop to cut the deficit to 12-8. Then Painter came up as the potential tying run and hit the foul fly over the fence for swinging at strike three.
Michael Bonifay was the winning pitcher for North Greenville while Cameron Tekker took the loss.
Leading hitters for Lander in Game 2 were Weston Lawing, 4-for-5 with a homer, two runs scored and two RBI; Daly, 1-for-4 with a homer and four RBI; and Berry, 2-for-3.
Top hitters for the Crusaders in the second game were McCuen, 3-for-4 with three runs; Lipscomb, 3-for-5 with two runs; and Staton, 1-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored and three RBI.