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North Georgia outlasts Lander in pitcher's duel, 3-1

Sam Linn struck out 10 batters in seven innings on Saturday afternoon against North Georgia (File photo by Joshua S. Kelly)
Sam Linn struck out 10 batters in seven innings on Saturday afternoon against North Georgia (File photo by Joshua S. Kelly)

GREENWOOD – Connor Hoover and Michael Bell homered, leading the University of North Georgia to a 3-1 Peach Belt Conference victory over the Lander Bearcats in a pitcher's duel Saturday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.

The Nighthawks evened the series after Lander had won Game 1 on Friday. The PBC series will be decided when the teams meet at 1 o'clock on Sunday at Dolny Stadium.

The Bearcats fell to 8-10 overall, 3-2 in the Peach Belt.

North Georgia improved to 11-4, 1-1.

The school from Dahlonega, Ga., took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Hoover, the second batter of the game, hit a solo homer. It was his fifth home run of the season.

After the homer, the game settled into a pitcher's duel between Steven Bower of the Nighthawks and Lander's Sam Linn.

The Bearcats were held to just one hit over the first seven innings, a leadoff single by Colton Yeager in the fourth.

North Georgia extended its lead to 2-0 in the top of the eighth when Hoover drew a two-out walk from Lander reliever Marshall Thompson, stole second and scored as Michael Gouge reached on a throwing error.

The Bearcats battled back in the bottom of the eighth when Bailey Connell doubled to deep left and scored when pinch hitter Gatlin Minick laced a double just beyond the right fielder's glove on the first pitch he saw.

Minick moved to third on a balk and Alex Conaway walked. With two out and Alec Dowell at the plate, the Bearcats attempted a double steal on the first pitch. North Georgia's catcher threw down to second as Minick took off toward home in an attempt to score the tying run. But the infielder threw back home nailing Minick on a very close play at the plate.

Bell led off the Nighthawks half of the ninth with a homer to left, his seventh of the season making it 3-1. North Georgia loaded the bases on two walks and a single but failed to pad the lead further.

Yeager drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, but the game ended on a double play.

Linn (0-3) had a strong outing, allowing only one run on three hits and two walks in seven innings but was the tough luck loser. He struck out 10, four looking. Thompson allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits and three walks while striking out three in his two innings of relief.

Bower (3-1) was the winning pitcher for the Nighthawks, giving up one run on just three hits in 7.1 innings, walking two and striking out five. Jacob Jones recorded the final five outs for his second save of the season.

Yeager, Connell and Minick each had one hit, the only three hits for Lander.

North Georgia was held to five hits with Hoover leading the way, reaching base three times with a homer, two walks and two runs scored.