NCAA Tournament: Lander Upsets Top-Seeded Mt. Olive 7-5 at Regional
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Freshman Colby Painter blasted a three-run home run over the right field fence Friday afternoon to lead the No. 20 Lander baseball team to a 7-5 upset victory over top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Mount Olive College in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at Scarborough Field.
Sixth-seeded Lander (38-18) will play Armstrong Atlantic later this evening. Top-seeded Mount Olive (44-9) will play Catawba in the next game. The championship game is set for Sunday with the winner advancing to the Division II World Series, May 26-June 2, at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
The win is the Bearcats' first-ever in the regional tournament and sets a new school record for victories in a season.
Trailing 5-3 with two outs in the ninth, Lander cut the Trojans lead to 5-4 on Jeff May's RBI single that scored Jacob Tisdale. After Erik Lunde's single down the left field line pushed Aaron Poole to second, Mount Olive changed pitchers.
The Trojans' Matt Dillon, who started the game and threw 178 pitches, was relieved by Chris Hinton, a sidearm pitcher. Painter drove Hinton's first pitch over the fence.
Lander's Ross Davis (5-3), who earned two wins in last week's Peach Belt Conference Tournament, was awarded the victory after striking out three, walking one and allowing one earned run on four hits in four innings pitched. Lander starter Chris Thomas, the PBC Pitcher of the Year, struck out two, walked three and allowed three earned run on nine hits in five innings of work.
Dillon (9-2) suffered the loss after striking out six, walking six and allowing five earned runs on nine hits in 8.2 innings pitched.
Mount Olive took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Mike Mercurio's two-RBI single up the middle that plated Cameron Sherrer and Nick Gaeta.
Lander bounced back in the third to tie the game at 2-2 after May scored on AJ Nunziato's RBI single and Painter advanced home on a bases-loaded hit by pitch.
The Trojans regained the lead at 3-2 in the third on Braden Reitano's sacrifice fly that sent Jacob Rogers across the plate.
The Bearcats came right back in the fourth and tied it at 3-all when, with bases loaded and no outs, Kevin Childs, who reached on an error, scored on Painter's RBI single.
In the fifth, the Trojans went up 4-3 on Gaeta's sacrifice fly that scored Geno Escalante then made it 5-3 in the seventh on Will Bynum's shot down the right field line that drove in Reitano.
For Lander, May went 2-for-3, Painter and Lunde both went 2-for-4 and Ian Harvey 2-for-6.
For the Trojans, Sherrer batted 3-for-4, Antonio Callaway 2-for-4, and Escalante 2-for-5.