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After Pemberton's strong relief effort, Lander falls in 11

Senior Logan Pemberton pitched 5.1 hitless innings Sunday against Georgia College on Senior Day. (Photo by Bob Stoner)
Senior Logan Pemberton pitched 5.1 hitless innings Sunday against Georgia College on Senior Day. (Photo by Bob Stoner)

GREENWOOD – Lander senior Logan Pemberton tossed five-plus innings of hitless relief to help the Bearcats rally back from a 6-0 deficit, and fellow senior Weston Lawing reached base all five times but Georgia College scored four runs in the 11th to outlast the Bearcats 10-6 in an important Peach Belt Conference game on Senior Day Sunday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.

The Bobcats improved to 23-15 overall and 11-10 in the Peach Belt. Lander fell to 21-23 overall and 10-17 in the PBC. Georgia College won the last two games of the series, taking the series two games to one.

It was a key victory for Georgia College in the battle for eighth place in the Peach Belt with Lander and Montevallo. The top eight teams qualify for the PBC Tournament.

Before the game, Lander honored seniors Bryce Clifton, Chris Hyatt, Lawing, Colby Painter, Pemberton, Aaron Poole and Jay Robinson. The senior class has a 146-67 record, including a trip to the NCAA Division II College World Series in 2014.

Lawing completed a big weekend by going 2-for-3 with a double, walk and reaching on an error as he reached base all five times before being replaced in center field by Will Porter in the ninth.

Pemberton tossed 5.1 innings, walking four and striking out two, holding the Bobcats scoreless and enabling his teammates to battle back from six runs down.

Georgia College scored four runs on five hits in the first inning. Jake Sandlin and Brandon Benson singled, Clay Ardeeser lashed an RBI single to right, Steve Hazel belted a two-run double to left center, and Brandon Purcell added a run-scoring single.

Benson's fourth homer of the season, a shot to left, made it 5-0 in the second.

The Bobcats increased their lead to 6-0 in the third when Logan Mattix walked, advanced to third on Colton Montgomery's single, and scored on Purcell's sacrifice fly to right.

Lander pulled within 6-1 in the fourth when Thomas Berry was hit by a pitch, stopped at second when Hyatt walked, and scored on Taylor Kellner's two-out single to center.

The Bearcats trimmed their deficit to 6-4 in the fifth with three runs on two hits. Lawing drew a leadoff walk, Painter was hit by a pitch, and Zach Giczewski singled up the middle to load the bases with nobody out. Berry hit a two-run single to right, and Hyatt added an RBI ground out.

Lander closed within 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth when Kellner hit the first pitch of the inning over the right-field fence, his sixth homer of the season.

The Bearcats drew even at 6-all in the seventh when Colby Lusignan reached on a bloop double into left field that dropped between three players, stopped at third on Hyatt's single, and scored on Poole's sacrifice fly to right.

Lander survived a scare in the top of the ninth when the Bobcats loaded the bases with one out. Pemberton retired the first batter but walked Hazel, and left the game to a standing ovation as Cameron Tekker entered in relief. Tekker walked Mattix and hit Montgomery in the batter's helmet to load the bases.

Brandon White relieved Tekker and induced a slow roller to third where Poole threw home to force pinch runner Cedric Zumwalt out at the plate. White then struck out Tanner Giesel to end the inning.

The Bearcats went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings.

Georgia College regained the lead with four runs in the top of the 11th. Mattix drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second when Purcell's hit-and-run grounder to second got through because Matt White had gone to cover the base. Mattix and Purcell pulled off a double steal, and then Mattix scored the go-ahead run on a ground out to second on a close play at the plate. Sandlin walked to load the bases, and Benson, Ardeeser and Zumwalt walked to force home runs. Mattix just missed a grand slam as Giczewski caught the ball at the fence in left for the final out of the inning.

Two batters reached for Lander in the bottom of the 11th but Berry and Lusignan each hit deep fly outs to end the game.

Chris Gammon (3-1) was the winning pitcher in relief for the Bobcats while White (2-3) took the loss.