GREENWOOD – Lander's hopes of qualifying for the Peach Belt Conference post-season baseball tournament will have to wait until Sunday.
North Georgia's Steven Tomlinson hit a tie-breaking homer in the top of the ninth and the Nighthawks held on for a 3-2 PBC victory over the Bearcats Saturday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.
Lander (15-32 overall and 8-21 in the PBC) must beat the Nighthawks Sunday afternoon to clinch eighth place, which would qualify the Bearcats for the Peach Belt Tournament May 11-13 at Flagler University in St. Augustine, Fla.
Francis Marion finished 9-21 in the PBC and is currently eighth, but the Bearcats own the tie-breaker due to sweeping the Patriots March 23-25 in Greenwood.
If North Georgia (29-17, 16-10) wins Sunday, Francis Marion will hold on to the eighth and final PBC Tournament spot. A Lander loss would also end the Bearcats' season.
Game time Sunday is 1 o'clock at Dolny Stadium.
Tomlinson led off the top of the ninth, hitting the first pitch of the inning over the wall in left center to break a 2-all tie. It was his fourth homer of the season.
The Nighthawks put two more runners into scoring position in the ninth after Jake Arnold and Nick Clarno singled and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by William Mapes. But Lander reliever JD Cook escaped further damage with a strikeout and pop up on the infield.
North Georgia reliever Parker Morrison (4-1) retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to clinch the win.
Cook (4-6), Lander's third pitcher in the game, took the loss.
Arnold and Connor Corbitt staked North Georgia to a 2-0 lead with solo homers in the second and fourth innings, respectively.
Held to just an Alex Conaway single through the first four innings, the Bearcats ended the shutout in the fifth. Conner Davis was credited with a single when his pop fly was lost in the sun by the second baseman and scored on Brice Kirven's double into the left-center gap, pulling Lander within 2-1.
The Nighthawks threatened in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with two out against Bearcats starting pitcher Joseph Whitt. But reliever Ryan Troutman retired Chase Sudduth on a soft liner to second base on a full count pitch.
Lander rode that momentum into the bottom of the seventh, tying the game at 2-all. Nathan Schreckengost doubled off the bottom of the wall in right center, Conaway walked, and then Davis hit a grounder to the right side. North Georgia's first baseman threw to second for the force out, but the shortstop made an errant throw back to first allowing Schreckengost to score.
Whitt pitched 6.2 innings for the Bearcats, allowing two runs on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Lander pitchers did not walk a batter in the game.
The Bearcats were held to five hits by Nighthawks starting pitcher Derrick Pickvet and Morrison.
Arnold was the game's top hitting, going 3-for-4 with a homer for North Georgia. Clarno was 2-for-4 while Sudduth went 2-for-5.