March 11, 2012

Late-Inning Letdown

AMERICUS - Lander University scored 13 runs over the final three innings on Sunday to leave Hurricane Stadium with a 14-1 win and series sweep of Georgia Southwestern in Peach Belt Conference baseball action.

Lander, victorious in nine of its last 10 games, improved to 17-6 overall and 7-2 in the PBC. GSW, now 3-19 overall and 2-7 in the PBC, has lost five in a row and seven of its last eight.

Hurricane center fielder Michel Coffey singled in his third at bat to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

The Bearcats struck first with a run in the third inning. After a leadoff ground out, Lander posted three-consecutive singles to load the bases. GSW starting pitcher Frank Ambrosino struck out the next batter, but an ensuing infield single by Patrick Grady made the score 1-0.

GSW batters struggled all afternoon against Lander starter Cory Hopper. The Hurricanes first hit came with two outs and a man on first in the third inning. John Duran singled to put a runner in scoring position, but Hopper worked out of the jam and went on to face the minimum over the fourth and fifth innings.

Coffey singled to lead off the sixth and advanced to second on a one-out wild pitch. He was left stranded and the 'Canes went 1-2-3 in the seventh and eighth. Hopper struck out the side in the eighth.

The Bearcats had opened the game up in the seventh when they scored four runs on four hits. All runs crossed with two outs. Erick Lunde was able to leg out an infield single, beating Ambrosino to the bag, in a close play that may have turned out to be the most important of the game. Instead of being out of the inning, GSW was down 2-0 and after hitting A.J. Nunziato with a pitch, Grady struck again. This time the No. 3 hitter in the batting order delivered a three-run double to center to give his team a 5-0 lead.

Lander had just begun its barrage.

The Bearcats added five runs in the eighth behind three hits, three walks and a hit batter. The biggest blow came from a three-run double by Nunziato. Not satisfied, Lander added four more runs in the ninth behind five singles, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly.

GSW broke up Lander's shutout in ninth when Duran scored from third on a wild pitch.

Duran finished with two hits in the game to give GSW its first multi-hit individual performance in the series.

Grady went 3-for-6 with a double and five RBIs to lead Lander. Juan Montana was 3-for-5 at the plate and scored three runs. Colby Painter went 3-for-4. Montana and Painter, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in LU's batting order, combined to go 14-of-27 (.519) in the series.

Ambrosino (0-1) suffered his first loss in five starts this spring. He tossed seven innings and struck out four. Gray Carden, Cameron Blinn and Chase Burnfin covered the final two frames.

Hopper improved to 2-1 behind eight scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out seven while scattering three hits. Kyle Tate was credited with GSW's only run in his 2/3 of an inning. Ben Runyon was brought on to get the final out.

The Hurricanes return to action on Wednesday when they host Albany State at 5 p.m.