GREENWOOD — Lander dropped the first two contests of a three-game non-conference series with Florida Southern College at Dolny Stadium on Friday, losing 9-2 and 7-4 respectively in the first ever meetings between the two programs.
The Bearcats fell to 18-23 on the year, while the Moccasins improved their overall mark to 28-8 this season.
The Mocs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second, with Mitch Reeves scoring from third on a wild pitch by Bearcats' starter Cameron Tekker.
Lander answered in the bottom of the frame as Colton Yeager ripped an RBI single to left field after Mocs' starter Logan Browning walked the bases loaded. Yeager's single plated Reed Gray to even the contest and Alex Conaway followed that up by lacing a single to shallow left, driving in Mason Dodd to give the Bearcats a 2-1 lead.
Florida Southern responded quickly, with Omar Villaman coming around to score from second on a single by Reeves, tying the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. Reeves continued his huge day in the top of the fifth, giving the Mocs a 3-2 advantage with a solo shot over the left field fence.
The Mocs grabbed an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Jason Sierra ripped a single through the middle of the infield to plate Austin Mauer. Florida Southern extended its lead to 5-2 later in the inning, with Villaman tagging up on a sacrifice fly by Christian Maglich. Bearcats' center fielder Alec Dowell tracked down a sharp liner off the bat of Ryan Frost later in the inning, ending the threat and keeping their deficit at three runs.
Florida Southern broke the game open in the top of the ninth, however, with Reeves blasting a grand-slam over the left field fence to take a 9-2 lead. It was Reeves second long ball of the day and 12th of the season, knocking in Sierra, Villaman and Mauer to bring his RBI total to 36 this spring.
Tekker lasted just three innings for Lander, allowing four hits and two runs, while walking two batters and hitting three more. The senior did work himself out of several jams though, leading to a high pitch count and an early exit.
Lander reliever Tripper Ergle (0-3) took the loss, surrendering three runs over 3.2 innings of work, while allowing five hits and a walk. Bearcats' southpaw Erik Holton gave up two runs over 1.1 innings, walking two batters and recording one strikeout. Senior Matt Thorpe worked the ninth inning, giving up two runs on two hits.
Florida Southern starter Logan Browning (6-1) got himself through a tough second frame, during which he allowed his only two runs of the day, to deliver a solid seven innings. The Mocs' junior allowed five hits and walked five batters, while recording five strikeouts.
J. T. Hintzen closed out the contest for Florida Southern, not allowing a single baserunner during his two innings of work. The junior right-hander struck out four, fanning the side in the bottom of the ninth to secure the 9-2 win.
Carson Jones also recorded a hit for the Bearcats, who didn't commit a single error during either matchup.
Lander struck first in round two, with Conaway driving in Yeager from second on a single to center field. Yeager doubled to start the rally and Conaway later advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was ultimately stranded in scoring position.
Bearcats' starter Sam Linn (1-7) retired the first 14 batters he faced in the second game of Friday's doubleheader, but ran into trouble when Reeves drew a walk with two outs in the top of the fifth. Reeves promptly advanced to third base on a single by Browning and then tied the game at 1-1 when he came home on a wild pitch by Linn.
Kevin Fuller was credited with the RBI as he walked on the wild pitch, putting runners on first and second for Maglich, who then doubled to center field to empty the bases and give Florida Southern a 3-1 lead.
The Bearcats responded by plating two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth to even the score at 3-3. Ryan Troutman was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Mocs' starter Chase Pilato (5-2). Conaway then reached on an error and advanced Troutman, who was driven in on a RBI double by Bailey Connell. Conaway, who advanced to third on Connell's double to left field, then came home on a balk by Pilato to tie the contest.
Florida Southern answered quickly once again, reclaiming the lead with two runs in the top of the sixth. Sierra lined a two-out home run over the left field wall, driving in Villaman to give the Mocs a 5-3 advantage.
Lander added another run in the bottom of the seventh to cut its deficit in half, with Dodd ripping a leadoff double to left to start the rally. Yeager smacked a double to right two batters later, plating Dodd and trimming Florida Southern's lead to 5-4.
The Mocs plated two insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a controversial home run by Mauer, which flew directly over the foul pole in left field to score Pablo Cabrera and stretch Florida Southern's advantage to 7-4.
Pilato struck out eight batters during five innings of work as he earned the victory, allowing five hits and three runs, only one of which was earned by the Bearcats. Tyler Knowles surrendered one run on two hits over 1.1 innings, while Cameron Hanes picked up his 10th save of the season for Florida Southern, fanning four batters in 2.2 innings of work.
Linn allowed five runs on five hits, striking out six and walking three during his six innings on the bump. Marshall Thompson gave up two hits over 0.2 innings of work, but didn't allow a run. Bearcats' reliever Joseph Whitt surrendered two runs during his 2.1 innings on the mound, walking one batter and striking out two.
Yeager and Conaway paced Lander with two hits each, while Connell, Jones and Dodd also recorded hits in the nightcap.