BELMONT, N.C. — The Lander baseball team let a two-run lead slip away in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night as Jakob Rolly hit a walk-off single to right-center field, driving in Adam Arcadia and Luke Cureton to give the Crusaders a 7-6 victory in non-conference action at Abbey Yard.
Matt McGarry gave Belmont Abbey hope with a one-out double off the wall in center field, later scoring on an RBI single by Cureton to cut Lander's lead down to 6-5. Nick Nunziato then drew a two-out walk off Bearcats' reliever Robbie Hoyt, moving the tying run over to second base, and Joseph Whitt was called upon to record the final out for Lander. The task grew tougher when Cureton and pinch-runner Arcadia advanced to second and third base respectively on a passed ball, allowing Arcadia to score the game-winner on Rolly's single.
The Bearcats dropped to 18-25 with the loss, while the Crusaders improved to 27-15 and extended their winning streak to three games. Belmont Abbey also beat Lander, 9-4, in late February.
Bearcats' starter Colton Rogers allowed just three earned runs on seven hits, striking out three batters over 5.2 solid innings of work. Robbie Hoyt (3-5) took the loss for Lander, giving up three earned runs on two hits over 1.2 innings on the mound.
Belmont Abbey used nine different pitchers throughout the contest, with Ross Garrett (1-1) picking up his first win of the season out of the bullpen. The Crusaders' approach was extremely effective as the Bearcats only found success against Troy Herterick, plating all six of their runs on four hits in the third inning.
The Crusaders struck first as Colin Rosenbaum stroked a double to the gap in left-center field to plate Matt McGarry in the bottom of the first frame. Rogers induced two consecutive ground balls to get himself out of the jam though, stranding a runner to hold Belmont Abbey to a single run.
The Bearcats' southpaw once again found himself in trouble in the bottom of the second, with runners on the corners and two outs, but got Nick Beinlich to ground out to shortstop Bailey Connell and escaped the inning unscathed.
Lander responded in a big way in the top of the third, scoring six runs on four hits, including two long balls. Ryan Troutman launched his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field that plated Reed Gray and gave the Bearcats a 2-1 lead. Gray was hit by a pitch to start the rally, while Troutman brought his RBI total to 21 on the year.
Herterick then got Colton Yeager to ground out and fanned Alex Conaway, but Carson Jones kept the inning alive with a sharp double down the left field line. Connell then picked up his 32nd RBI of the season, blasting a double off the wall in right-center field to plate Jones and extend the Bearcats' lead to 3-1. Nathan Schreckengost then drew a walk before Alec Dowell ripped a three-run homer to left field, giving Lander a 6-1 advantage. The long ball was Dowell's fourth of the season, bringing his RBI total to 16.
The Crusaders scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third as McGarry smacked a leadoff single and eventually advanced to third after a throwing error by Troutman and a failed pickoff attempt by Rogers. Rosenbaum picked up the RBI with a sacrifice fly to center field, cutting the Bearcats' lead to 6-2, but Rogers promptly retired the next two batters to end the frame.
Belmont Abbey tallied two more runs on two hits in the bottom of the fifth as Beinlich knocked a solo shot over the left field wall to start things off. Rosenbaum then ripped a triple to right field and came home on a wild pitch by Rogers to trim the Crusaders' deficit to 6-4.
Belmont Abbey threatened again in the sixth inning, with Josh Genthe drawing a two-out walk off Rogers to put the tying run on first base and move Kennan Stanley to second. Freshman reliever Marshall Thompson came through in the clutch for Lander, however, striking out Beinlich to end the threat.
Thompson worked himself out of another tough situation in the bottom of the seventh, stranding two runners and allowing Lander to maintain its 6-4 lead. After retiring the first two batters, the Bearcats' right-hander hit Cureton, who promptly stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Thompson then walked Kayden Krause, once again putting the tying run on first base, but got Rolly to line-out to center field.
Dowell led the way with a 2-for-4, 3-RBI performance at the plate, while Troutman, Colton Yeager, Connell and Jones also recorded hits for the Bearcats.
McGarry paced Belmont Abbey with three hits and also scored three runs on the night. Rosenbaum and Rolly tallied two RBI and two hits each, while Beinlich, Stanley and Cureton were responsible for the remainder of the Crusaders' 10 hits.
The Bearcats will try and snap a four-game losing skid when they host Lenoir-Rhyne at Dolny Stadium on Wednesday night, with the first pitch slated for 6:00 p.m.