Lander Wins PBC Baseball Regular-Season Championship!

Lander Wins PBC Baseball Regular-Season Championship!

Tournament Update

There are still several games left to play, but with the regular season winding down, the following teams have captured playoff spots: Lander, Columbus State, Georgia College, USC Aiken, UNC Pembroke, Armstrong and Montevallo.  UM takes their spot as even with a loss tomorrow to Georgia College, the Falcons will have a .413 winning percentage.  Only Francis Marion can surpass them for the #7 spot.  Georgia Regents, even with a win on Sunday, cannot catch UM.

GRU can catch and pass Francis Marion however for the #8 seed.  With Saturday's win over UNCP, the Jaguars are one up in the win column despite trailing the Patriots in winning percentage.  GRU will have to wait for the results of FMU's series at Young Harris May 1-2. 

No. 2 Lander baseball claims Peach Belt regular-season championship with sweep against AASU

GREENWOOD – Thomas Berry had a walk-off hit in Game 1 and Erik Lunde homered twice in the second game as the No. 2 Lander Bearcats clinched their first-ever Peach Belt Conference regular season baseball championship with a double-header sweep over Armstrong Atlantic State Saturday on Senior Day at Dolny Stadium.

Lander won the first game 8-7 on Berry's game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the second game 10-4. Cam Hokanson (3-1) was the winning pitcher in relief in both games. 

The Bearcats finished the regular season 43-6 overall and 24-6 in the Peach Belt, edging Columbus State for the title. Columbus State swept a double-header against North Georgia Saturday, but Lander's three-game sweep put them over the top due in part to Columbus's loss on Friday. 

The Bearcats celebrated with a dog pile on the field after left fielder Weston Lawing caught a fly ball for the final out of the night. 

Armstrong Atlantic fell to 25-18 overall and finished 15-15 in the PBC.

Both teams will play in the single-elimination Peach Belt Conference Tournament May 10-11 at Roberto Hernandez Stadium on the campus of USC Aiken. The NCAA Division II Southeast Regionals will follow May 15-18, possibly at Dolny Stadium.

Seniors Lunde, Tyler Broome, Austin Dunn, Patrick Grady, Ryan Jones, Connor Lewis, Graham Ramos, Kyle Tate, Tyler Wilson and Dylan Wolchik were all recognized on the field before the game as well as senior athletic trainer Sarah Fuller.

Another Lander single-game record fell in the third inning of Game 1 Saturday when Berry walked for the 48th time, breaking Robert Skinner's school record from 2011.

On Friday, Lewis broke Lander's single-season total base record while Grady set a new mark for doubles in a season, both passing Jesse Barbaro's 2007 totals. Weeks ago, Grady broke the runs scored record and Lewis the home run mark. The team broke a school record for wins as well.

Lander exploded for five runs in the bottom of the third inning of Game 1 off Armstrong ace Ethan Bader, with all scoring after two were out. Grady blooped a single to left, Berry drew with 48th walk of the season, and Lawing was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ramos hit a two-run single up the middle, Colby Painter belted a two-run triple off the right field wall, and Austin Dunn had a run-scoring double.

The Pirates pulled within 5-1 in the top of the fifth when Matt Wisniewski singled, moved to third on a single by Joey Lupus, and scored on Cody Sherlin's single. But Taylor Alvarez escaped further damage when he induced Tyler Avera to hit into a double play. 

Wisniewski and Lupus hit RBI singles to pull Armstrong within 5-3 in the top of the sixth.

The Bearcats added an important insurance run with two out in the seventh when Lawing doubled to right center and scored on a single by Ramos, making it 6-3.

But Armstrong Atlantic battled back against the Lander bullpen, tying the game with three two-out runs in the top of the eighth. Johnny Walker relieved Bearcats starter Alvarez at the start of the eighth and retired the first batter but walked Wisniewski and Lupus. Kyle Tate relieved Walker and struck out the first batter he faced, but allowed Sherlin's two-run double off diving left fielder Wilson's glove, and Avera's game-tying single through the middle.

Bader retired the side in the bottom of the eighth and White allowed one hit in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Green relieved Armstrong starting pitcher Bader and walked leadoff hitter Lewis on a 3-2 pitch. Berry sacrificed Lewis to second, and Green intentionally walked Lawing. But Green retired Ramos and Painter on fly balls to the outfield.

The Pirates took a 7-6 lead with a run in the top of the 10th off White when Lupus drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on Dalton Johnson's sacrifice bunt, stopped at third on Sherlin's ground out, and scored on Avera's single through the right side. Hokanson relieved White to get the final out.

But Lander responded in the bottom of the 10th as Chris Hyatt hit a leadoff single to left and moved to second on Thomas Bess's sacrifice bunt, prompting the Pirates to replace Green with Mitchell Dolan. Lunde greeted Dolan with an RBI triple to deep right to tie it, and after Dolan intentionally walked Grady and Lewis to load the bases, Berry crushed a walk-off hit to the wall. Officially a single, the ball landed at the base of the wall in left center as Lunde walked home.

Hokanson (2-1) was credited with the win and Green (2-3) took the loss.

Alvarez gave up three runs in seven innings, leaving the game with the lead. Pitching to contact, he allowed 12 hits and was benefitted by great defense up the middle by second baseman Ramos and shortstop Lunde. Alvarez struck out three and walked no one.

Pirates starter Bader allowed six runs on nine hits in eight innings, striking out four and walking four. He, like Alvarez, got a no decision. 

Leading hitters in Game 1 for Lander were Ramos, 3-for-5 with three RBI; Painter, 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI; and Grady, 2-for-4 with two walks.

Leading hitters for Armstrong were Avera, 3-for-6 with two RBI; Sherlin, 2-for-6 with three RBI; and Zach Lance, Wisniewski and Lupus with two hits apiece.

The Bearcats got off to a tough start in Game 2 when starting pitcher Mason McCullough walked three, hit a batter, and threw a wild pitch in the top of the second inning. Miller walked, Lance was hit by a pitch on a bunt attempt, and Barry Aldridge bunted the runners to second and third. Miller scored on a wild pitch, and McCullough walked the next two batters to load the bases. But he retired the next two batters to escape with just a 1-0 deficit.

Lander answered with three runs in the bottom of the second. Ramos struck out but reached first on a wild pitch, Painter walked and Hyatt bunted the runners over. Ramos scored when Bess grounded out to second, and Lunde followed with a two-run homer to right. It was Lunde's 11th round-tripper of the season.

Armstrong Atlantic tied it with two runs in the top of the fifth on Mason Hart's RBI single off McCullough and Wisniewski's bases loaded walk off reliever Hokanson. Bearcats pitchers walked four in the inning, including two wild pitches by McCullough.

Lunde led off the bottom of the fifth with his second consecutive homer, a blast over the right-field wall that was his 12th of the season. Grady followed with a double down the third-base line and Lewis hit an RBI double down the first-base line, giving Lander a 5-3 lead. 

The Pirates pulled within 5-4 in the top of the sixth when Sherlin walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Avera's fly out to center, and scored on another Hokanson wild pitch.

Lander broke the game open with four runs in the seventh, including a two-run double by Ramos. Bess was hit by a pitch to force home the third run of the inning and Lunde's bases-loaded walk completed the rally. 

The Bearcats made it 10-4 in the eight when Berry singled, stopped at third on Lawing's double, and scored on a wild pitch.

Meanwhile, Ryan Jones, who is 9-0 as a starter, came in the game in the seventh inning and finished up for his second save of the season with three innings of two-hit shutout ball.

McCullough worked 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits while walking seven, hitting one and throwing four wild pitches. He struck out three. 

Leading hitters for the Bearcats in Game 2 were Lunde who was 3-for-3 with two homers, a double and four RBI; and Lewis, 2-for-5. Hart led Armstrong with two hits.

No. 10 Columbus State Baseball Concludes Regular Season With 11-6 Victory Over North Georgia

Dahlonega, Ga. – An eight-run second inning propelled the 10th-ranked Columbus State University baseball team to an 11-6 victory over North Georgia in the regular season finale Saturday afternoon. The game took place at Bob Stein Stadium in Dahlonega, Ga.

Columbus State finishes the regular season with a 36-14 overall record and a 23-7 mark in Peach Belt Conference play. The 23 conference wins are the most ever by a Cougar team since the PBC was founded for the 1992 season. 

Also with the victory, the Cougars won their 11th straight PBC series. CSU won all 10 series played this season. 

After each side went scoreless in the first, North Georgia starter Clint Spratlin started trouble in the second issuing leadoff walks to Dustin Averett and Mike McClellan. Blake Edwards would record CSU's first hit of the day singling to right field loading the bases for Blaine Miller. 

Miller began the scoring by lacing a single to right field that plated Averett and McClellan putting the Cougars ahead 2-0. 

Spratlin's defense didn't help him, however, as two errors allowed a run to score and reload the bases for Jackson Oliver with just one out. Oliver used his patience drawing a walk to force home the fourth run of the inning. 

After a strikeout, Spratlin was just one out away from escaping the jam but Dustin Averett made the errors hurt even more hitting a grand slam to cap of the inning and to put the Cougars ahead 8-0. 

North Georgia looked to rally in the bottom of the second as Andrew Gordan was hit by a pitch and Beau Welborn singled to begin the frame. However, Cougar starter Bryan Headley settled down striking out Cameron Crawford and getting Nick Vinson to line into a double play to end the inning unharmed. 

The Nighthawks continued getting their leadoff hitter on base in the third and the fourth. Headley didn't panic however and induced groundball double plays in each inning. 

North Georgia finally got on the board in the fifth after a leadoff double by Crawford. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Vinson. 

Columbus State didn't waste time in regaining their eight-run lead as Matt Nettles singled with one out in the sixth. Brendan Collins followed with a single of his own before both base runners stole a bag to advance. With two outs, Jimmy Obermark rolled a ball to short where Joey Cecere couldn't corral it cleanly, allowing a runner to cross the plate. 

North Georgia attempted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth scoring three runs to cut CSU's lead to 9-4. Headley loaded the bases without giving up a hit by walking two batters while also hitting one before being lifted for Ryan Pistey. 

Pistey exchanged outs for runs getting two straight fly outs, which resulted in sacrifice flies for the Nighthawks. Vinson later capped off the three-run inning with a RBI single to right-centerfield. 

The Cougars got two of the three runs right back in the top of the seventh as Carson Bowers hit his second home run of the day scoring McClellan who began the inning with a walk. 

Jordan Villhauer entered the game for the Cougars in the bottom of the sixth after Vinson's single and would keep the Nighthawks off the board. The junior only allowed one hit in 3.1 innings of work which was a two-run home run by Eason Spivey in the bottom of the ninth. 

For his efforts, Villhauer recorded his first save of the season. 

Headley improved to 9-2 after tossing five innings in the start. He allowed four runs on seven hits. 

Edwards was the lone Cougar to have two hits in the game going 2-for-5. Averett had four RBIs thanks to his second inning grand slam while Bowers was 1-for-3 with three RBIs.

For North Georgia, Cecere was 3-for-4 while Spivey was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run. 

Spratlin (2-6) took the loss allowing eight runs in just two-plus innings of work. 

No. 10 Cougars Defeat North Georgia 9-5

Dahlonega, Ga. – Needing a victory to stay alive for the Peach Belt Conference regular season championship, the 10th-ranked Columbus State University baseball team scored six runs over the final two innings to defeat North Georgia 9-5 in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader. The game took place at Bob Stein Stadium in Dahlonega, Ga.

With the victory, the Cougars snapped their first three-game losing streak of the season and stayed within one game of Lander for the top spot in the PBC standings. 

Columbus State (35-14, 22-7 PBC) found itself down 4-3 heading to the top of the eighth inning with the bottom of its order due up. However, the Cougars found power from one of their least likely candidates as Carson Bowers tied the game at four with his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall.

Matt Nettles followed the home run with a single to right field and advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Collins. With Nettles in scoring position, Jackson Oliver delivered his fourth hit of the game singling up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run.

CSU would eventually load the bases after two walks but was unable to add on.

After Cougar closer Trey Watson pitched a perfect eighth inning, Columbus State iced the game in the ninth thanks to one swing of the bat. Blake Edwards began the frame with a walk before Bowers followed with a sharp single to left field. UNG pitcher Ben Peters settled down getting the next two hitters to fly out but he walked Oliver to load the bases and extend the inning.

Jimmy Obermark would do all the damage as he launched a grand slam to put the Cougars ahead 9-4.

North Georgia (20-25, 8-18) was able to score one in the ninth on an Andrew Gordon single but that was all as Watson recorded his 11th save of the season.

Similar to game one, the Cougars jumped ahead of North Georgia as CSU plated a run in the first. With one out, Oliver reached second after doubling over the left fielder's head. Oliver later scored on a two-out Mike McClellan single to left field.

Cougar starter Caden Ferguson ran into some trouble in the second as Gordon began the frame with a double before Ferguson issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Ferguson limited the damage to just two getting consecutive run scoring groundouts by Nick Vinson and Joey Cecere as UNG went ahead 2-1.
Columbus State responded in the fifth as Collins began a rally with a one-out double to left field before Oliver singled up the middle to put runners on the corners. After Nighthawk starter Brandon Agar got the second out of the inning, Dustin Averett came through in the clutch with a two-run double to put the Cougars ahead 3-2.

Ferguson was rolling along in the bottom of the fifth until Eason Spivey doubled to left-centerfield to begin a two-out rally. Ferguson walked the next two hitters loading the bases for Beau Welborn. Welborn delivered for the Nighthawks singling up the middle chasing home two runs to put UNG ahead 4-3. Robert Hayes entered the game for the Cougars and got the final out of the inning.

Columbus State had a great chance to go ahead in the sixth as Tim Massengale began the inning with a single to left field while Edwards drew a walk to put two on with no outs. After a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, Nettles walked loading the bases for the top of the Cougar order. However, new UNG pitcher Josh Bryan got a popup and a lineout to escape the jam.

The Cougars also stranded the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the seventh before the Bowers home run in the eighth.

Columbus State's bullpen pitched well in the game allowing just one run over 4.1 innings of work. Robert Hayes pitched two scoreless innings while Riley Presnell (2-0) got the win retiring the only batter he faced in the bottom of the seventh.

Ferguson allowed four runs in 4.2 innings of work. He walked five while striking out three.

Oliver had another great game at the plate going 4-for-5 with a RBI while scoring three times. He had a double and also stole a base. Averett was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a double. Obermark had four RBIs thanks to his grand slam.

For North Georgia, Phillip Taylor (2-4) took the loss after allowing two runs in one-plus innings of work. Brandon Agar started the game and allowed three runs over 5.1 innings. He struck out seven while allowing nine hits.

Spivey was 3-for-4 for the Nighthawks with a double. Welborn drove in two as well.  

USC Aiken Sweeps Georgia Southwestern

AIKEN, S.C. – The University of South Carolina Aiken baseball team used big innings in both games of the doubleheader to down Georgia Southwestern 13-4 and 7-4 Saturday afternoon.

The Pacers are now 34-13 on the season, including a 19-10 effort against Peach Belt Conference schools.

In the opener, Matt Bossepaced the squad with a game-best three RBI while Dylan Durham accounted for two. Durham and Tyler Mooreregistered three hits apiece while Bosse had a pair of base knocks. Kody Belcher, Grayson Smith, Sean Miller, Ty Barkell,Ryan Metzler and T.J. Costen all had a hit.

Moore scored three times while Miller, Barkell, Metzler and Bosse all crossed home twice.

Derek Beasley worked 6.2 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked just three en route to earning the victory.Cole Lee finished the seventh and worked a scoreless eighth while Brandon Sharpe tossed a scoreless ninth for the victors.

It looked as though the Pacers would cruise to the victory after plating two in the first and one in the second for a 3-0 edge. However, the Hurricanes tied it with three in the fourth. Head coach Kenny Thomas' team broke the game open by recording eight unanswered runs, with five coming in the fifth and three in the sixth. Georgia Southwestern tried to put together some runs – and scored one in the seventh – but USC Aiken plated a run in the seventh and eighth for the 13-4 victory.

In the first, Moore singled with two out and moved to second on Barkell's hit to left. After both runners moved up 90 feet, an errant throw allowed Moore to trot home for a 1-0 edge. Metzler singled to left, scoring Barkell after an error on the left fielder. A throwing error by the pitcher allowed Bosse to score in the second after he led off the frame with a double to left.

After the Hurricanes scored three to tie it in the fourth, the Pacers ensured the win with a big fifth stanza. Although the first two batters of the inning were out on grounders, Miller drew a walk and scampered to third when Moore singled to the gap in right center. Miller later scored on a wild pitch. Costen's single to the pitcher loaded the bases while Moore scored. Bosse cleared the bases with another double for the 8-3 edge.

A throwing error started the scoring for the Pacers in the sixth when Belcher raced home. Miller scored on a wild pitch prior to Barkell's sacrifice fly that scored Moore.

Leading 11-4, Smith beat out an infield single that allowed Bosse to score in the seventh. The final run of the game occurred when Durham ripped a single to left in the eight as Metzler crossed home.

In the second game, the Hurricanes jumped on top with three runs in the top of the first. However, Thomas' squad cut the deficit to two in the third. Costen ripped a triple to the gap in right center and came home on a sacrifice fly by Miller. The triple marked the 21st of the season by the Pacers, which tied the school record.

Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Moore beat out a ball to the shortstop and raced to third on a double by Metzler. Bosse pounded the ball into the ground for a high chopper up the middle, scoring Moore while placing runners on first and third with one away. Donath helped USC Aiken continue the rally when he reached out and slapped a single through the left side, making it 4-3. A double steal moved Bosse and Donath up 90 feet, respectively. That allowed Donath to score when Belcher hit a grounder to short, tying the contest. The Pacers were unable to capitalize, leaving two runners stranded in the frame.

The Pacers took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh with two runs. Barkell doubled home Miller for the go-ahead run and he came home when Metzler rocketed a single to left for a 6-4 advantage.

USC Aiken added an insurance run in the eighth when Ben Donath crossed home. He led off the stanza with a double to left and scored on Miller's single.

For the game, Ben Black hurled the final 4.1 innings and gave up just one hit en route to earning the win. Matt Hissong started the contest and threw 4.2 innings but did not get a decision.

At the plate, Bosse led the way with three hits. Barkell and Donath added two hits apiece while Miller drove in a pair of runs.

The Pacers and Hurricanes return to action tomorrow at 1 p.m., in the final game of the three-game series. Live stats, video and audio will be available at PacerSports.com.

Jags Take 2-0 Lead In Series With 14-6 Rally At UNCP

PEMROKE, N.C. – After getting the save in last night's victory, Jaguar senior slinger Clint Echols started the second meeting to hold off UNC Pembroke in 7.1 innings of work where the Jags totaled 16 hits for a 14-6 Peach Belt Conference win on Saturday afternoon. 

The Jaguars (19-30, 11-18 PBC) are now ahead 2-0 over the Braves (32-17, 16-13 PBC) in their last PBC series of the year. In the first inning the Jags' bats came to life with two outs. Jeff Rice, Hunter Boose, and Ryan Khan all hit singles with Khan getting the first RBI on the day. Up 1-0, GRU scored on a wild pitch from UNCP starter Garrett Hickman and built a 3-0 lead with a Chase Loyd RBI knock to center field. 

Echols held the Braves quiet and GRU's offense picked it back up in the second with Bradley Dennis' leadoff single. Dennis took second on a wild pitch and third on a sac bunt, before Ross Miles took Hickman opposite field for another Jaguar run. The Jags scored twice more before the Braves got on the board with two in the seventh and eighth.

The Jags got some insurance by putting up a seven spot on the Braves in the eighth – highlighted by Boose's three-RBI double. The Jags took game two 14-6 with Clint Echols (3-4) getting the win where he struck out five and allowed five hits for six runs. Sabo went 3-for-4 with two walks in the leadoff role, while Miles posted two RBI and Boose and Khan each three RBI.

The series concludes tomorrow with a 1:00 p.m. single game at UNCP.

Saints sweep Sailfish on Senior Day

ST. AUGUSTINE – Flagler College swept its season-finale doubleheader against Palm Beach Atlantic University, winning the first game 14-3 and rallying to win game two 4-3, Saturday afternoon at Drysdale Field. Flagler also honored its seven seniors: Beau Beaudreau, Jake Brandenberger, Paul Jeanot, Matt Morningstar, Chris Patrick, Joe Post and Tyler Vanover.

Flagler completed its season by winning its last four games in a row and close with a 23-25 overall record. The Saints were eliminated from qualifying for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament after GRU Augusta won its second consecutive game at UNC Pembroke. Palm Beach Atlantic University lost its sixth game in a row and fell to 15-27-1 overall.

Jake Taylor led the Saints going 3-for-6 in the doubleheader with a double, two home runs, six runs batted in and he scored three runs.

In the opener, Flagler blew open a scoreless tie with a nine-run third inning, taking advantage of four Palm Beach Atlantic errors, en route to a 14-3 win. The Saints sent 13 men to the plate and collected six hits. Of the nine runs scored, six were unearned. Todd Juliano and Morningstar each hit two-run singles and Taylor hit a two-run home run off of reliever Phil DiLandro to cap the scoring.

Danny Brown (4-3) tossed six innings, scattered seven hits, allowed three runs, walked one and tied his season-high with eight strikeouts. Justin Ratte, Beaudreau and Kuehl McEachern all tossed a scoreless frame.

Taylor went 3-for-5 with a double, two home runs, three runs scored and five RBI. Morningstar went 2-for-5 with a double, one run scored and he knocked in three runs. Lorenzo Butler doubled, tripled, scored a run and stole a base. Post collected two singled, scored four runs and drove in another. 

Ryan Cota (3-5) took the loss after hurling 2.2 innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs. He walked six and struck out six.

Joel Buchko singled, doubled, scored a run and drove in two for the Sailfish. 

In the nightcap, the Sailfish jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead, but the Saints were able to rally back. Flagler pushed across a run in the fifth after Nick Kranick led off the inning with a walk. Two batters later, Todd Juliano doubled down the left field line into the corner which allowed Kranick to score from first.

The Saints did the brunt of their damage in the sixth. Andrew Brodbeck led off the inning with a single and Butler followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt by Post moved the runners up a base and then Taylor hit a sacrifice fly to right-center to drive in Brodbeck. Now down one run, Kranick ripped the first pitch he saw over the right field wall to give Flagler a 4-3 lead.

Kyle Bird closed the seventh retiring the Sailfish in order to record his first save of the season. It was his first relief appearance of the year.

Brandenberger (6-3) tossed six innings, scattered seven hits, allowed three runs, walked two and struck out four for the Saints. His 20 career wins breaks the Division II era record previously held by Austin Donmoyer (2006-09).

Dominic Monda (4-4) took the loss in relief. He tossed 1.1 innings, allowed two hits, three runs, walked one batter and struck out another. Matt Bell started and lasted 4.2 innings. He allowed just two hits and one run.

Ethan Perla singled twice and scored two runs for PBA. Buchko went 2-for-3 with a double, one run scored and he knocked in two runs.

In between games, Flagler presented its end of the year awards. The Pitcher of the Year went to Brandenberger for the second consecutive year. Kranick was named as the Hitter of the Year while Taylor was selected as the Newcomer of the Year. Juliano took home Defensive Player of the Year honors and Butler earned the Coaches Player of the Year Award.