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Lander baseball sweeps No. 22 North Georgia in walkathon

Lander's Colby Painter (right) dives back to first base and then advanced to second on this throwing error in the first game of Saturday's PBC doubleheader against North Georgia. (Photo by Bob Stoner)
Lander's Colby Painter (right) dives back to first base and then advanced to second on this throwing error in the first game of Saturday's PBC doubleheader against North Georgia. (Photo by Bob Stoner)

GREENWOOD – Colby Painter hit two home runs while Will Jones had five RBI and a big relief pitching performance as the Lander Bearcats swept a Peach Belt Conference baseball double-header over No. 22 North Georgia 9-4 and 15-12 Saturday at Dolny Stadium. There were 45 walks in the two games.

Colby Lusignan also had five RBI as Lander won the PBC series two games to one, improving to 19-20 overall and 9-15 in the Peach Belt.

The Nighthawks fell to 21-11, 15-6.

After 19 batters walked in Friday's 16-12 North Georgia win, there were 64 walks in the three-game series.

The games lasted four hours and seven minutes Friday, and 3:29 and 4:08 Saturday.

On a windy day at Dolny Stadium, North Georgia took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of Game 1 on Conner Hoover's two-out RBI infield single.

The Bearcats tied it in the fourth on John Mangum's two-out bases loaded walk. Nighthawks center fielder Tremayne Toorie then robbed Weston Lawing of an extra-base hit, likely saving three runs with this diving catch in left center.

North Georgia regained a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth on Toorie's run-scoring fielder's choice. Lander's Cam Hokanson relieved starter Andrew Reardon with the bases loaded and one out, and escaped further damage with a strikeout and ground out.

The Bearcats took their first lead of the afternoon with four runs in the bottom of the fifth on Lusignan's two-run double past the first baseman, and Jones' two-run single up the middle for a 5-2 advantage.

North Georgia loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the sixth but was held to one run on Sam Tidaback's sacrifice fly to left. On that play, Lander catcher Mangum gunned down a runner trying to advance to third.

The Bearcats grabbed an 8-3 lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Mangum singled, Painter was intentionally walked, and Alex Conaway hit an RBI single to right. Thomas Berry drove in a run with an unassisted bunt out to first, and Lusignan added a run-scoring single.

The Nighthawks threatened again in the top of the seventh with two on and nobody out. But Lander second baseman Matt White killed the rally by ranging behind second to turn a double play, reaching back to tag second and throwing on to first.

The Bearcats increased their lead to 9-3 in the seventh when Mangum hit a two-out single to left and scored on Lawing's double down the left-field line.

North Georgia scored the final run of the game in the eighth when Devin Gearhart drew a bases-loaded walk.

There were 22 walks in Game 1, 13 issued by Lander pitchers.

Bearcats starter Reardon allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out eight and walking five in 4.1 innings. Hokanson (2-0) was credited with the win in relief, while Brandon White and Bryce Clifton finished up.

Mangum, Conaway, Lawing, and Lusignan had two hits apiece for the Bearcats. Lawing had two doubles and Lusignan three RBI.

Tidaback led North Georgia with three hits while Steve Tomlinson added two.

Lander grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2 on Lusignan's two-out, two-run triple that scored Conaway and Berry.

Gearhart's RBI single pulled the Nighthawks within 2-1 in the top of the second inning.

White's leadoff double to the right-field wall ignited a three-run Bearcats rally in the bottom of the second, making it 5-1. Lawing and Berry had RBI singles in the inning.

North Georgia climbed within 5-2 in the top of the third on Travis Naraine's RBI single.

Will Jones led off the bottom of the third with a homer, his team-leading eighth of the season. The shot over the left-field fence increased Lander's lead to 6-2.

The Nighthawks closed within 6-4 in the top of the fourth on Joey Cecere's RBI single and Tomlinson's sacrifice fly.

Painter upped the Bearcat advantage to 7-4 with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the fourth, starting a five-run rally. The blast over the right-field wall was his fourth of the season.

After Conaway walked, Berry made it 9-4 with a two-run homer into the trees in right. It was his eighth of the season, tying Jones for the team lead. Lusignan doubled and scored on a single up the middle by Jones, and Taylor Kellner added an RBI single for an 11-4 lead.

Lander starting pitch Kyle Boraski retired North Georgia in order in the top of the fifth, making it the first 1-2-3 inning to that point in the entire three-game series.

The Bearcats made it 13-4 in the bottom of the fifth with three walks and a hit batsman. Jones was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to produce one run and another scored on a wild pitch.

Kevin Krupp's two-run double off the right-field wall, Tomlinson's RBI single and Toorie's three-run homer over the left-field wall pulled North Georgia within 13-11 in the top of the seventh. But Jones came in from shortstop and got the final out in the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth.

Painter came through again in the bottom of the eighth. Following Aaron Poole's leadoff walk, Painter hit a two-run homer over the right-field wall for a 15-11 lead.

Two North Georgia batters reached on errors in the top of the ninth, and Trevor Sams hit an RBI single before Jones struck out the final batter for his third save of the season.

Lusignan was 4-for-5 with two RBI for Lander in Game 2, Berry was 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBI, Painter went 2-for-5 with two homers, three runs scored and three RBI; Jones was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs and three RBI; and Kellner went 2-for-5.

Cecere, Toorie, Sams and Krupp had two hits apiece for the Nighthawks in Game 2.

Boraski (4-3) got the win for Lander, allowing four runs on six hits, seven walks and three strikeouts in five innings.