Lander sweeps UNC Pembroke behind Fitschen's big day

Lander sweeps UNC Pembroke behind Fitschen's big day

GREENWOOD – The Lander baseball team belted eight extra-base hits including four home runs and completed a Peach Belt Conference series sweep over UNC Pembroke 12-8 on a windy Sunday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.

The Bearcats improved to 8-7 overall, 4-2 in the PBC. Lander also won 10-7 on Friday and 7-6 Saturday.

The Braves fell to 6-7, 1-5.

Mike Fitschen led the way for Lander with a homer, two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI. Josh Gregory, Ward Betts and Vincent Addona also homered for the Bearcats while Kyle Jenkins contributed two doubles.

Lander totaled 11 hits but also suffered five hit batsmen while drawing six walks.

Ethan Baucom hit two of UNC Pembroke's three home runs as gusty winds were blowing toward center field during the entire game, helping the teams belt a combined seven round-trippers.

"I'm extremely proud of our guys," said head coach Jason Burke. "They threw a punch early, we answered, then they threw another punch. Good Peach Belt teams are going to be like that and we've got to be able to win those types of games. I thought our guys did a great job dealing with the adversity and continuing to play hard and expecting to win the entire time without hitting the panic button."

The Bearcats had outscored their opponents 53-10 in the first three innings this season but got off to a slower offensive start Sunday.

UNC Pembroke took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on homers by Trevor Clemons and Baucom.

Lander cut its deficit in half in the third when Fitschen doubled and scored on Colton Yeager's single.

The Braves had a big threat in the top of the fourth, but Lander starting pitcher Joseph Whitt held them to one run. Colton Grainger, Elijah Helton and Seth Hartings singled to load the bases with nobody out. But Whitt retired Jarratt Mobley on an infield fly ball and Brennen Hogan drove home the run by reaching on a fielder's choice.

It took the Bearcats until the bottom of the fourth to break through this time when they scored six runs to take a 7-3 lead. Gregory hit the first pitch of the inning over the right field fence, his second homer of the season. Bailey Connell drew a two-out walk and Betts gave Lander a 4-3 lead when he lined the ball off the batter's eye wall in dead center, his first homer as a Bearcat.

Fitschen continued the rally with his second double of the game, Nathan Schreckengost walked, Yeager loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch, and Jenkins delivered a three-run double.

Baucom's second homer of the game pulled UNC Pembroke within 7-4 in the top of the fifth.

Addona crushed a longer homer to right center, his second of the season, increasing the Bearcat lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

The Braves pulled within 8-7 in the top of the sixth. Hartings reached on an error, moved to third on Mobley's double and scored on a wild pitch. Dawson Painter hit an RBI single and Luke Jackson added a sacrifice fly.

Schreckengost walked, moved to third on Jenkins' second double of the afternoon, and scored when Gregory reached on an error to give Lander a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

The Bearcats increased their lead to 12-7 in the seventh. Connell and Betts singled ahead of Fitschen's second homer of the season, a three-run blast to right.

Grainger doubled and scored on Helton's double to make it 12-8 in the ninth, but UNC Pembroke left two base runners in scoring position.

Whitt (3-1) was the winning pitcher for Lander. Marshall Thompson got some big outs out of the Bearcats bullpen while Praise Thorsen recorded the final three outs to seal the sweep.

Braves starting pitcher Tanner Routh (1-1) took the loss.