GREENWOOD – Taylor Kellner saved the day for the Lander Bearcats in dramatic fashion Saturday evening.
Kellner's line drive homer over the right field fence in the bottom of the 11th inning gave Lander an 8-7 victory in Game 2 of their Peach Belt Conference double-header after Columbus State had tied it in the ninth with three two-out runs that were the result of Bearcats misplays.
The teams split the double-header as the Cougars won Saturday's opener, 8-5. Columbus State also won Friday, taking the series.
Lander is 13-16 overall and 6-12 in the PBC. The Cougars are 17-10, 6-9.
The Bearcats were cruising with a 7-4 lead going into the top of the ninth of Game 2.
But Columbus tied it with three runs after two were out. Pinch hitter Matt Nettles singled to center, Blake Edwards hit a two-out single, and pinch hitter Chris Daniel lifted a pop up to left that dropped between the third baseman and left fielder for an RBI single. Brendan Collins reached on a fielder's choice on a routine grounder when the second baseman tried to get a force at second instead of making the easier play at first. Daniel beat the throw to second and another run scored. Jackson Oliver followed with a game-tying single to right.
But with two outs in the 11th, Kellner hit his second home run of the day and fifth of the season as Lander celebrated a walk-off victory.
Will Jones (4-2) was the winning pitcher for the Bearcats in relief. With most of the damage coming in the bizarre top of the ninth, Jones allowed three runs on five hits in four innings, striking out four and walking no one.
Trey Watson (0-2), Columbus State's eighth pitcher in Game 2, suffered the loss.
Lander starting pitcher Andrew Reardon was in line to get the win until the lead got away in the ninth. He allowed four runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking two.
The Bearcats increased their lead to 2-0 in the second when Aaron Poole, who had singled, slid around the tag attempt at home plate on Conaway's sacrifice fly to right.
CSU's Edwards led off the top of the third with his first homer of the season, a shot over the left-field fence.
Lander increased its lead to 3-1 in the third when Thomas Berry singled, advanced to third on Colby Painter's hit-and-run single into the hole vacated by the shortstop (who was going to cover second), and scored on Chris Hyatt's sacrifice fly.
Columbus State tied it at 3 on a pair of solo homers in the top of the fourth. Mike McClellan hit his 11th homer of the season, a towering shot that cleared the green batter's eye center field wall. Two batters later, Dustin Averett hit his fourth of the season, a blast to left.
The Bearcats regained the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth, making it 5-3. Kellner was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Berry's double, and scored on Lusignan's single to right. Lusignan advanced to third on Painter's double and scored on Hyatt's slow grounder up the middle.
The Cougars pulled within 5-4 in the top of the sixth when Jackson Oliver was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on Averett's double off the top of the right field wall.
Lander added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh when Berry walked and Painter launched his first home run of the season, a shot over the fence in right to make it a seemingly comfortable 7-4 lead.
Painter was the Bearcats' leading hitter in Game 2, going 3-for-5 with a homer. Lusignan, Kellner and Berry added two hits apiece.
Oliver, Averett and Edwards had two hits apiece for the Cougars in Game 2.
Columbus took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Game 1 when Oliver doubled into the right field corner and scored and McClellan's single.
The Bearcats tied it in the bottom of the first when Matt White reached on a leadoff single to right center, moved to second on a ground out, and scored on Painter's single to left.
The Cougars moved ahead 3-1 in the third when Ryan Ihle singled, moved to third when Collins reached on an error, and scored on Oliver's sacrifice fly to center. Collins also scored on that fly ball due to a throwing error.
Nettles led off the Columbus half of the fourth with a solo homer over the right field fence. Carson Bowers singled, stole second, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch for a 5-1 lead.
Lander pulled within 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth when White reached on an infield single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to right by Berry.
The Cougars added two runs in the top of the sixth when Nettles tripled to deep right center and scored on a Bowers sacrifice fly, and Edwards doubled and came home on a bunt by Collins to make it 7-2.
Lander's Kellner led off the bottom of the sixth with his fourth homer of the season, a blast over the right-field fence.
Columbus added another run in the top of the seventh when Nettles drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 8-3, and had the bases loaded with nobody out but a 5-2-3 double play helped the Bearcats avoid further damage.
Lander closed within 8-4 in the bottom of the seventh when Berry walked, moved to second on Conaway's single, and scored on Kellner's single up the middle.
The Bearcats scratched out a run in the ninth when Painter was hit by a pitch with two outs, stopped at second when Berry walked, and scored on Kellner's single to right.
Mike McGinnity (4-0) was the winning pitcher for the Cougars, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings with four walks and three strikeouts. Caden Ferguson 2.2 innings and Trey Watson got the final out for his third save of the season.
Joe Mackey (2-3) took the loss for Lander, giving up seven runs, six earned, on 12 hits in 5.1 innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. Cameron Tekker finished up for the Bearcats, yielding one run on three hits in 3.2 innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.
Nettles was Columbus's leading hitter in Game 1, going 3-for-3 with a homer, double, two runs scored and two RBI. McClellan also had three hits while Collins and Ihle had two hits apiece.
Kellner was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI for Lander, White was 2-for-5 with two runs scored, and Berry went 2-for-4.
Bearcats senior Hyatt made his first career start at third base in Game 1.