Columbus – Thirtieth-ranked Lander rallied from a 5-3 deficit including scoring a single run in the seventh and eighth inning to defeat Columbus State 6-5 Thursday night at Golden Park in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
With the loss, the Cougars fall to the loser's bracket and will take on sixth-ranked Francis Marion tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game. LU will now meet the winner of the USC Aiken versus Montevallo game at 4:00 p.m Thursday night. Both games will take place at Golden Park.
Lander (36-16) began their comeback when Patrick Grady launched a monster shot over the leftfield wall to leadoff the fifth inning cutting the CSU lead down to 5-4.
The Cougars ran into pitching problems in the seventh as starting pitcher Will Casey walked Ian Harvey to begin the frame. After a groundout and an infield single, Casey got the second out of the inning on a fly ball to rightfield. The senior southpaw would then issue a walk to Kevin Starr to load the bases before being lifted for Drew Dades.
Dades wouldn't have better luck as he walked in the tying run on four pitches. He would then fall behind 3-1 to Jeff May before battling back to induce a ground ball to Cyle Rasmsus at second base.
The Bearcats capped off the comeback with one swing of the bat as Colby Painter hit a 3-1 pitch just over the right-centerfield wall in the eighth inning.
Dades (4-3) took the loss tossing 1.1 innings allowing just one run. He issued two costly walks while striking out two.
Casey did not factor into the decision pitching 6.2 innings allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits. He punched out four batters and walked three.
Lander scored the first two runs of the game in the first after Harvey led off the game with a hard hit single to centerfield. A well executed hit and run play put runners on the corners for the Bearcats before a failed pickoff attempted allowed Harvey to score. After a strikeout, Jordan Owens hit a ball off the end of the bat to centerfield driving in the second run of the game.
Columbus State (30-22) came right back loading the bases with no-outs on two singles and a walk. Brett Teschner would then hit into a double play which scored Rasmus from third.
In the third, Navarro Hall walked on four pitches and stole second after a Cameron Scott fly out. Hall moved up to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Teschner single to centerfield that tied the game at two.
The Bearcats retook the lead in the fourth scoring an unearned run before the Cougars exploded for three runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Seth Corbitt started the inning with a double down the leftfield line which was followed by a walk and a Rasmus bunt single. Hall would reach base on a fielder's choice that drove in Corbitt before stealing second base. On a 3-2 pitch to Scott, the All-PBC designated hitter roped a ball to left-center driving in a pair of runs that gave the Cougars a 5-3 lead.
From there, the Cougars would only record one hit and never threatened to tie the game.
AJ Nunziato and Patrick Grady each had two hits for Lander during the game. Nunziato scored a run and legged out a double while Grady hit his sixth home run of the season. Cody Painter was 1-for-4 hitting his fourth long ball of the year.
Ross Davis (3-3) recorded the victory pitching the final 5.2 innings. He allowed just two hits while striking out seven batters. Todd Hughson lasted just 3.1 innings in the start allowing five runs including walking four hitters.
Cameron Scott, Brett Teschner and Seth Corbitt all had two hits for the Cougars. Scott knocked in two runs while Teschner had one RBI.
Columbus State and Francis Marion will play the second game of the day tomorrow afternoon. On Wednesday, the Cougars defeated FMU 4-1.