GREENWOOD – Sophomore catcher Ryan Troutman singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Lander Bearcats upset 23rd-ranked USC Aiken 3-2 Saturday afternoon in a Peach Belt Conference game at Dolny Stadium.
The in-state rivals will battle again Sunday at 3 o'clock at Dolny Stadium to decide the series. The Pacers won Friday's opener in extra innings.
Lander improved to 13-16 overall with the victory Saturday, evening their PBC record at 7-7.
USCA fell to 21-8, 7-4
The game was tied at 2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Pacers reliever Nick Yobbi walked leadoff hitter Reed Gray, hit Mason Dodd with a pitch and walked Gatlin Minick with one out to load the bases. After a meeting on the mound, Lander's Troutman laced the first pitch he saw to left for the game-winner as pinch runner Alec Dowell crossed the plate.
Bearcats reliever Robbie Hoyt (1-2) was the winning pitcher while Yobbi (1-2), making his first relief appearance of the season, took the loss.
USC Aiken took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Jonathan Banks hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on Brian Parreira's sacrifice fly to right. Lander right fielder Carson Jones made a strong throw home and Banks barely beat the throw, sliding under Troutman's tag.
The Bearcats answered in the bottom of the fourth, tying it when Nathan Schreckengost crushed a 3-1 pitch over the right-field fence for his team-leading seventh homer of the season.
Gray followed with a single to right, moved to second on a passed ball, to third on wild pitch, and scored on Dodd's single to center for a 2-1 lead. It was Dodd's 18th RBI on 18 hits this season.
The Pacers tied it in the top of the eighth when Jose Bonilla hit a leadoff single, moved to second when Mitchell Price walked, raced to third on Zach Moon's fly out to right, and scored on Perreira's two-out single to left, making the score 2-2.
Sam Linn had a strong start for Lander, allowing two runs on eight hits in eight innings. He struck out six and walked three. Hoyt pitched a scoreless ninth, giving the Bearcats a chance to get a walk-off win.
Pacers starting pitcher Connor Riley was also strong, allowing two runs on four hits in 7.2 innings. He walked just two and struck out 13.
Perreira was 3-for-3 with two RBI for Aiken, while Bonilla and Tyler Ammerman each went 2-for-4. Nobody had more than one hit for Lander.