GREENWOOD – Zach Daly's bases-loaded single highlighted Lander's four-run rally in the eighth inning as the Bearcats opened up their Peach Belt Conference series with an 8-4 victory over Armstrong State Friday night at Dolny Stadium.
Lander, which rallied from an early 4-0 deficit, improved to 14-5 overall and 7-3 in the PBC. It was the sixth consecutive victory for the Bearcats.
The Pirates fell to 9-7, 4-6.
The teams will complete the series Saturday with a double-header, starting at 1 o'clock at Dolny Stadium.
Armstrong took a 4-0 lead in the top of the second when Chandler Corley reached on a two-out single to right, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Kendrick Thompson's single to right. Thompson advanced to second on the throw home, scooted to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Will Austin's infield single to second. Austin stole second and scored on Cody Sherlin's single to right. JT Phillips reached on an error, and Jerad Curry followed with an RBI single up the middle. But Bearcats starting pitcher Will Jones settled down, allowing his team back into the game.
Lander scored once in the bottom of the second when Thomas Berry walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, held up at third on Taylor Kellner's double that bounced off the diving center fielder's glove, and scored on Mason Dodd's ground out to second.
Kellner led off the bottom of the sixth with his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot over the right center field wall which pulled the Bearcats within 4-3. Dodd followed with a double to left and moved to third on Ryan Troutman's sacrifice bunt. But Dodd was left stranded as Aaron Bentley relieved Pirates starter Corey Kafka to get the final two outs.
Lander reliever Harper Grier came into the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh and induced a comebacker to the mound to end Armstrong's threat.
The Bearcats tied the game at 4-all in the bottom of the seventh when Lusignan singled, advanced to second on Bentley's errant pickoff throw, and scored on Berry's single to center.
Lander took the lead for good with four runs in the eighth. Troutman and Jordan Curtis walked, Matt White reached on an error to load the bases, and the Armstrong right fielder misplayed Daly's single into a bases-clearing event with Troutman, Curtis and White all scoring for a 7-4 lead. Berry added an RBI double to deep right center, plating Daly.
Grier (2-0) was the winning pitcher for the Bearcats while Tyler Graham (1-3) took the loss for the Pirates.
Kellner, Lusignan, Daly and Berry had two hits apiece for Lander.
Curry and Corley led the Armstrong offense with two hits apiece.