Lander wins conference opener against Montevallo

Bailey Connell was one of five Bearcats to homer in Lander's series-opening win over Montevallo on Friday night (File photo by Joshua S. Kelly)
Bailey Connell was one of five Bearcats to homer in Lander's series-opening win over Montevallo on Friday night (File photo by Joshua S. Kelly)

MONTEVALLO, Ala. – The Lander baseball team launched a season-high five home runs on Friday night as the Bearcats pulled away from Montevallo to claim a 7-3 Peach Belt Conference victory in game one of their three-game series at Kermit A. Johnson Field. The two teams will finish the series with a 3 p.m. game on Saturday and a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.

Lander has now hit five home runs in at least one game in six consecutive seasons. 

The Bearcats improve to 6-7 overall and 1-0 in the PBC, while the Falcons fall to 8-5, (0-1).

Lander's JD Cook (1-1) earned his first career win on the mound as a Bearcat after striking out seven, walking two and allowing two earned runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings.

Joseph Whitt picked up his third save of the year by pitching 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Montevallo's Colton Nussel (0-2) suffered his the loss, striking out five, walking two and allowing three earned runs on five hits in 5.1 innings.

The Falcons took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Caleb Ledbetter's RBI single that scored Daniel Pardo.

Lander answered in the top of the fourth when Nathan Schreckengost and Bailey Connell belted back-to-back home runs to put the Bearcats up 2-1.

Montevallo took the lead at 3-2 in the bottom of the inning after Ledbetter and Ryan Brooks each singled home a run. 

The Bearcats would take the lead for good in the sixth. After Alec Dowell was hit by a pitch and Connell walked, Carson Jones crushed a three-run homer to put Lander up 5-3. Mason Dodd followed suit with a solo shot, giving the Bearcats back-to-back homers for the second time in the three innings.

The Falcons threatened in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs to chase Cook, but Joseph Whitt struck out Matthew Furuto to end the inning. 

Lander finalized the scoring with a solo home run from Reed Gray in the eighth. 

For the Bearcats, Gray had three hits and Schreckengost two.