Lander clinches series as Connell, Yeager lead the way with five RBI

Lander clinches series as Connell, Yeager lead the way with five RBI

GREENWOOD – The Lander baseball team got a combined six hits, five runs and five RBI from Bailey Connell and Colton Yeager and beat No. 24-ranked Millersville 8-6 Saturday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.

The Bearcats clinched the three-game series victory, improving to 3-3. Lander also won 7-1 Friday night and the teams will play the final game of the series Sunday at noon at Dolny Stadium.

Prior to this weekend, Lander and Millersville last met in the 2016 Division II College World Series, where the Marauders defeated the Bearcats 4-2 to advance to the national championship series.

With Saturday's loss, the visitors from Pennsylvania fell to 0-2.

Lander honored the life and legacy of former pitcher Jeremy "Worm" Cox prior to Saturday's game.

Cox, who passed away in July 2018, was a standout left-handed pitcher on Lander's inaugural baseball team in 1998. He was the winning pitcher in Lander's first ever home victory, pitching a complete game three-hitter against No. 8-ranked North Florida, a win which would propel Lander into the national rankings in only its second week of existence as a program. Cox was known for his extremely effective curveball and impeccable command of the strike zone.

Cox's wife Niki and two sons Caleb and Carson were recognized Saturday, with the two boys throwing out "first pitches."

Connell went 3-for-3 with a double, home run, three runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Yeager was 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI.

Nathan Schreckengost was 2-for-5 with two RBI for Lander while Vincent Addona went 2-for-4 with a double.

Davis Cunningham tossed the first four innings for the Bearcats, allowing one run on four hits while walking four and striking out four. Praise Thorsen (1-0) allowed one earned run in three innings of relief to earn the win while Nick Foray tossed the final two innings for his first save.

Jimmy Losh, Manning Brookens and Eric Callahan had two hits apiece for Millersville. Cordell Shannon (0-1) was the losing pitcher.

Lander got off to a fast start, scoring three runs in the first before making an out. Connell hit a leadoff double to deep left center and scored on Yeager's single through the middle. Mike Fitschen walked and then he and Yeager advanced on a wild pitch. Both scored on Schreckengost's single to right.

Callahan's RBI single pulled the Marauders within 3-1 in the top of the second.

Connell's two-out solo homer to left in the bottom of the second gave the Bearcats their three-run lead back at 4-1.

Lander added two in the fourth after Addona led off with a double. Connell and Yeager each hit RBI singles, making it 6-1.

Brookens had a run-scoring single in the fifth to pull Millersville within 6-2.

The Bearcats padded their lead in the sixth with Connell and Yeager striking again. Connell walked, stole second and scored on Yeager's single. Fitschen followed with an RBI double for an 8-2 advantage.

Brookens delivered another RBI single in the top of the seventh, cutting the Marauders deficit to 8-3.

Things got interesting in the top of the ninth but Lander hung on for the victory. Jimmy Cain led off with a double and scored on Dominic Hardaway's single. Losh singled and he and Hardaway moved up on a wild pitch.

Foray collected his third strikeout of the inning when Callahan swung at a pitch in the dirt but reached when the catcher made an errant throw on the putout attempt, allowing two runs to score making it 8-6. But Kaylor Kulina flied out to left to end the game.