GREENWOOD, S.C. -- No. 22-ranked Lander University and Georgia Southwestern split a Peach Belt Conference baseball double-header Saturday afternoon at Legion Field with the Bearcats winning the opener 3-2 and the Hurricanes rallying from a 9-2 deficit to win the nightcap 10-9.
GSW is 7-8 overall and 1-1 in the Peach Belt while Lander is 9-3, 1-1. The teams finish their PBC series Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock at Legion Field.
The Bearcats won the opener, 3-2, in 11 innings on Brian Bender's game-winning single. But Georgia Southwestern scored eight runs in the seventh to shock the hosts in the nightcap as the rally included Zack Stanton's three-run homer and Daniel Lynn's go-ahead hit.
In the opening game, the Bearcats won by scoring the winning run in the 11th after missing several other late scoring opportunities. Pinch hitter Jordan Owens singled past the shortstop and pinch runner Jeff Caskey was sacrifice bunted to second by Brooks Reames. Caskey slid home safely on Bender's single to center.
Lander took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Game 1 when Josh Lovvorn was hit by a pitch, moved to second on A.J. Nunziato's single, to third when Gabe McCann walked, and scored on Robert Skinner's infield single.
The Bearcats made it 2-0 in the second when Reames doubled down the left-field line and scored on Bender's single to center.
Georgia Southwestern pulled within 2-1 in the top of the sixth when Bud Long singled, stole second, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on Francisco Gomez's single.
The Hurricanes tied it in the seventh when Shane Doyle drew a two-out walk and slid home on Long's double over the left-fielder's head. The Bearcats threatened to score in the eighth and ninth but couldn't get the big hit, so the game went into extra innings.
Both starting pitchers performed well. Lander's Darren Tew took a two-hit shutout into the sixth before giving up one run. He allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked two in six innings. Georgia Southwestern's Andrew Whiggum allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking two in 6.2 innings. Billy Veal (3-0) got the win in relief while Austin Smith (0-1) took the loss.
Leading hitters in Game 1 for the Hurricanes were Long, 2-for-5 with a double and RBI; and Daniel Stokes, 2-for-4. Leading hitters for the Bearcats were Bender, 2-for-6 with two RBI; Nunziato, 2-for-3 with a double; and Devin Ridlehoover, 2-for-5.
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2 when Chris Lingham reached on an error, stole second, moved to third on a grounder, and scored on Long's ground out.
Lander took a 3-1 lead in the third with runs scoring on Ridlehoover's double, McCann's single, and a balk.
Kevin Carroll's sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth pulled Georgia Southwestern within 3-2. But the Bearcats extended their lead to 5-2 in their half of the fourth on Lanier's RBI double, and Nate Mangiapane's sacrifice fly.
The Bearcats seemingly put the game away with four runs in the fifth. Ridlehoover and Nunziato started the rally with singles and the first run scored when Hurricanes right fielder Byron Haynes made a diving catch of a foul ball in deep right off the bat of McCann for a sacrifice fly. Skinner followed with an RBI single, Lanier drove in one run with a ground out, and Mangiapane singled home a run to make it 9-2.
But Stanton's three-run homer to left brought Georgia Southwestern within 9-5 in the seventh. Then the Hurricanes loaded the bases, giving them six consecutive base runners before the first out was recorded on Jared Allen's run-scoring fielder's choice. Noble Coley added an RBI single and Haynes drove in a run on a grounder to first, pulling Georgia Southwestern within 9-8. Lynn looped a single over the shortstop, driving home two to give the visitors a 10-9 lead.
Brandon Reeder finished off the Bearcats to earn the save and a double-header split. Ryan Lackey earned the victory in relief while Bearcats reliever Casey Downam took the loss.
Leading hitters for Lander in Game 2 were Ridlehoover, 3-for-5; Owens, 2-for-4; and McCann, Mangiapane and Lanier with two RBI apiece. Ridlehoover had five hits in the double-header. Stanton led the Hurricanes, going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI while Lynn was 1-for-2 with two RBI.
PICTURED: Zack Stanton
PHOTO BY: Chris Fenn