DAHLONEGA, Ga. - Taylor Kellner belted two home runs and batted 3-for-4 with six RBI Friday night to lead the nationally ranked Lander baseball team to a 12-0 Peach Belt Conference victory over North Georgia at Bob Stein Stadium.
Lander, which improves to 28-8 overall and 16-6 in the PBC, is ranked No. 9 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper; and No. 21 by D2 Baseball News. North Georgia slips to 17-14, 8-11.
The second contest of the three-game series will be played at 2 p.m., Saturday, with Game 3 at 1 p.m., Sunday.
Lander's Will Jones (4-2) struck out eight, walked one and gave up three hits in eight innings of scoreless work.
North Georgia's Brandon Agar (3-2) took the loss after striking out six, walking two and allowing seven earned runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings.
Lander kicked off the scoring in the fourth on Kellner's two-run homer to right centerfield that drove in Thomas Berry.
The Bearcats, who have swept five PBC opponents in three-game series, stretched the lead to 7-0 in the fifth after Colby Lusignan doubled in Zach Daly, then later scored himself on John Mangum's RBI single; and Kellner stroked his second homer of the day, a three-run shot to centerfield.
Kellner, who now has six homers on the season, continued to make things happen in the seventh when his RBI single plated Berry for an 8-0 advantage.
With bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, Mangum and Lusignan scored on a North Georgia throwing error, then Mason Dodd and Kellner went home on another Nighthawk miscue to go up 12-0.
For Lander, Berry batted 2-for-3 with three runs scored; Lusignan 2-for-5 with one double and two runs; and Alex Conaway 2-for-4.