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Lander earns series-opening win in 18-3 rout of Francis Marion

Lander earns series-opening win in 18-3 rout of Francis Marion

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Lander baseball team drew a school-record 20 walks en route to a dominant performance on Friday night as the Bearcats defeated Francis Marion, 18-3, in a Peach Belt Conference series opener.

Lander (10-18, 6-7 PBC) seized control of the game with eight runs in the top of the second inning. Josh Gregory's sacrifice fly knotted the score at 1-1 and back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Vincent Addona and Mike Fitschen put the Bearcats up 3-1. Nathan Schreckengost drove in a pair of runs with a single and Colton Yeager and Zack Moore knocked in two more runs to give Lander an 8-1 advantage. 

Another bases-loaded walk, a pair of wild pitches, and an RBI groundout plated four more Bearcat runs in the top of the fourth, increasing the lead to 12-1. Francis Marion (18-10, 9-7 PBC) scored again in the bottom of the fifth, but Lander struck for another big inning in the seventh. With two outs and the bases loaded, Carson Jones sent a triple down the left field line to drive in all three runs. After a walk, Bailey Connell singled Jones home and Mike Fitschen was hit by a pitch two batters later to bring home Lander's 17th run of the night. 

An RBI groundout from Moore in the top of the eighth capped the Bearcats' scoring, while the Patriots managed more run in the bottom of the eighth. 

Alex Moore (4-2) allowed two runs on four hits with 11 strikeouts in 6.0 innings to earn the win, while Lander's bullpen surrendered just a single hit over the final three innings. The Bearcats handed Evan Flynn (4-1) his first loss of the season, tagging the Patriot starter for five runs on two hits with three walks in 1.1 innings of work.

The 15-run victory marked Lander's largest margin of victory in a conference game since an 18-3 win over Young Harris in 2016, while the 20 walks broke the program's previous record of 15, set against UNC Pembroke in 2013. 

The Bearcats will look to earn a series win on Saturday afternoon as Lander faces the Patriots at 2:00 p.m.