GREENWOOD — Florida Southern opened up a 9-0 lead and completed a three-game sweep of the Lander Bearcats on Saturday afternoon, earning a 13-2 victory to improve to 29-8 on the season. Lander fell to 18-24 with the loss.
On a gorgeous day at Dolny Stadium, Zach Giczewski, Cameron Tekker, Garrett Lovorn, Matt Thorpe, JD Waite and Reed Gray were honored prior to the contest during the Bearcats' Senior Day festivities. Sullivan Burke, the seven-year-old son of Lander head coach Jason Burke, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch for the Bearcats.
The Mocs' bats were hot from the very beginning, tallying four runs on five hits in the top of the first inning. Pablo Cabrera drew a walk off Waite to get the rally started, advancing to third base on a sharp single by Austin Mauer.
Cabrera came home on a bloop RBI single to shallow center field by Omar Villaman, giving the Mocs an early 1-0 lead. Jason Sierra followed that up with a three-run shot over the left field wall, plating Mauer and Villaman to stretch Florida Southern's lead to four runs.
Waite (1-4) settled down in the second frame, retiring the side in order to get the Bearcats back to the plate in a hurry.
Lander threatened in the bottom of the second, with Mason Dodd drawing a two-out walk to keep the inning alive. Gray then laced a single to right field, moving Dodd to third base, but Mocs' starter Jake Walsh (9-1) was able to escape the jam by getting Ryan Troutman to strike out swinging.
The Mocs opened things up in the top of the third, scoring five runs on four hits to take a 9-0 lead. Sierra and Mitch Reeves each singled up the middle to lead off the frame, with Logan Browning stroking an RBI double down the first base line to plate Sierra and move Reeves over to third.
Waite then fanned Christian Maglich for the first out of the inning and hit Vaun Brown to load the bases. Cody Burgess promptly emptied the bases though, knocking a grand slam over the wall in the left-center gap to drive in Reeves, Browning and Brown.
Carson Jones put the Bearcats on the board in the bottom of the fourth, blasting a towering solo shot to dead center field to cut the Mocs' lead down to 9-1.
The trend continued into the next frame as Lovorn got Burgess to ground out to Dodd at third base, once again stranding runners on the corners. The Mocs did add two more runs in the inning, however, extending their advantage to 11-1. Sierra scored on a single to right field by Browning, while Maglich slapped a single up the middle just past the glove of Connell to plate Reeves.
The Lander bats got going in the bottom of the seventh, as the Bearcats scored a run off Mocs' senior reliever Craig Savage to trim their deficit to 11-2. Alec Dowell ripped a stand-up double down the left field line to leadoff the inning and then stole third base to put himself 90 feet from the plate. Dodd then drew a walk, giving the Bearcats runners at first and third for Gray, who notched an RBI on a double play ball that plated Dowell.
Florida Southern tallied two more runs on two hits in the top of the ninth, with Cabrera knocking a two-run homer over the left field fence. Brown also came around to score on the long ball, giving the Mocs a 13-2 advantage.
The Bearcats refused to go down without a fight, threatening to cut into the Mocs' lead in the bottom of the ninth with some two-out magic. Dodd singled to start the rally, advancing to third on a single by Gray, but freshman Mike Fitschen flew out to left field to end the game.