PEMBROKE, N.C. – The Lander baseball team nearly erased an eight-run deficit on Sunday afternoon, but could not catch No. 21 UNC Pembroke as the Bearcats dropped a 13-11 decision in the Peach Belt Conference series finale.
Lander (5-8, 1-5 PBC) suffered its first conference sweep of the season while UNCP (11-1, 5-1 PBC) earned its fifth consecutive victory.
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI groundout from Nathan Schreckengost, but the Braves pounced for eight runs over the next three innings.
Zack Moore cut the deficit to six with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth and Mike Fitschen doubled home Bailey Connell in the top of the fifth to bring the Bearcats within five. However, UNCP plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 11-3.
Lander fought back with four runs in the top of the sixth as Alex Conaway singled home Moore and Kyle Jenkins followed up with a two-run triple. Jenkins then came home on a single from Fitschen as Lander trimmed the Brave lead to 11-7.
After UNCP posted two more runs in the bottom of the seventh, the Bearcats answered again in the top of the seventh. Connell launched a solo home run and Carson Jones blasted a two-run shot to bring Lander within three runs.
Fitschen's two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth cut the UNCP lead to 13-11 and brought the tying run to the plate, but Schreckengost lined out to third base to end the series.
The Bearcats committed five errors on the day. Fitschen led the offense with a 4-for-6 effort with three RBI.
Tripper Ergle (1-1) took the loss for Lander, allowing three earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 3.0 innings.
UNCP's Aaron Biggerstaff (2-0) picked up the win, holding the Bearcats to one run on two hits with two walks and a strikeout in 1.1 innings of relief.