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Lander gets back on track with 7-1 win over Lenoir-Rhyne

Lander snapped a four-game losing streak, defeating Lenoir-Rhyne 7-1 at Dolny Stadium on Wednesday night (file photo by Joshua S. Kelly)
Lander snapped a four-game losing streak, defeating Lenoir-Rhyne 7-1 at Dolny Stadium on Wednesday night (file photo by Joshua S. Kelly)

GREENWOOD — The Lander baseball team deployed five different pitchers on Wednesday night as they held Lenoir-Rhyne to just one unearned run and four hits, snapping a four-game losing streak by earning a crucial 7-1 non-conference victory under the lights at Dolny Stadium.

Tripper Ergle (1-3) earned his first-ever home win, tossing four innings of one-hit baseball, while allowing just one unearned run and striking out two. It was the second victory of the sophomore's career and first since March 8, 2016 at Emmanuel.

Lander improved to 19-25 on the year, while Lenoir-Rhyne dropped to 21-23.

Carson Jones had a huge night with a 2-for-4, four-RBI performance at the plate, slugging his ninth home run of the year to pace the Bearcats' offense. Mason Dodd tallied three RBI on two hits for Lander, bringing his RBI total to 36 on the season, while Nathan Schreckengost also recorded two hits on the night.

Bearcats' starter Garrett Lovorn got into trouble in the top of the first frame, with runners on the corners and only one out. Lovorn promptly struck out Zach Jacobs and got David Newcomer to hit a soft grounder back to the mound, escaping the jam unscathed.

Lander threatened during its first trip to the plate, with Alex Conaway drawing a walk and Nathan Schreckengost moving him over to second base with a single. The Bearcats squandered the scoring opportunity, however, as Lenoir-Rhyne starter Matt Sullivan (1-2) retired Bailey Connell and Alec Dowell to end the inning.

The Bears once again put the pressure on Lovorn in the second inning as Tripp Hamrick belted a single and Fred Wadsworth drew a walk to put runners on first and second with just one out. Hunter Jackson advanced both runners into scoring position by grounding out to third, but Hamrick was caught in his attempt to come home on a ball that just got past Ryan Troutman, who tossed it to Lovorn just in time to apply the tag.

The Bearcats broke up a one-hitter by Sullivan in the bottom of the fourth, plating three runs on three hits to break the scoreless tie. Connell started off the rally by drawing a one-out walk, with Dowell moving him over to third on a single to left field. Jones then ripped an RBI single right up the middle, driving in Connell and advancing Dowell to second. Both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Sullivan, who then walked Reed Gray to load the bases. Dodd took advantage, spraying a single past Bears' second baseman David Newcomer to drive in Jones and Dowell, giving Lander a 3-0 lead.

Lenoir-Rhyne finally got on the board in the top of the fifth, scoring an unearned run without recording a hit. Justin Dean drew a walk off Ergle and wound up advancing all the way to third base as Troutman committed a throwing error trying to catch him swiping second. Marcus Shoemaker picked up the RBI on a ground-out to Lander second baseman Colton Yeager, plating Dean to cut the Bearcats' lead to 3-1.

The Bearcats responded in the bottom of the frame as Nathan Schreckengost singled to start the rally. Dowell drew a two-out walk off Sullivan to keep the inning alive and Jones made the Bears' starter pay, launching a three-run shot over the wall in right-center field to extend Lander's lead to 6-1. The long ball brought Jones' RBI total to 34 on the season and chased Sullivan from the contest.

Lander added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth as Lenoir-Rhyne committed two errors in the frame. Gray reached second on an error by Dean, who dropped a pop-fly in center field, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Dodd then reached on an infield single, moving all the way over to third on a throwing error by Bears' second baseman Cole Abshire, allowing Gray to scamper home and stretch the lead to 7-1.

Erik Holton, Ryan Flores and Matt Thorpe combined for two innings of hitless baseball to secure the win for Lander, each recording a strikeout in the process.

The Bearcats will return to action when they travel to face Augusta in a vital three-game Peach Belt Conference series on Friday.