Nunziato, Thomas lead Lander past Hurricanes

AJ Nunziato
AJ Nunziato

GREENWOOD – AJ Nunziato reached base four times and Lander starting pitcher Chris Thomas settled down after a rough start, leading the Bearcats to a Peach Belt Conference series-winning 7-4 victory over Georgia Southwestern Sunday afternoon at Legion Field.

Lander improved to 22-17 overall and 9-8 in the Peach Belt. The Hurricanes fell to 22-16, 9-9. The teams split a double-header on Saturday.

Nunziato was 2-for-3 with a triple, stolen base, two walks, two runs scored and two RBI. His only out was a fly out to the left-center field fence.

Thomas (5-4) allowed three runs in the first two innings before settling down. He gave up four runs, three earned, on eight hits in 7.2 innings, striking out nine and walking one before Todd Hughson got a key out in the eighth and finished for his first save of the year.

Jody Sellars (2-4) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings while walking five and striking out none.

Also for the Bearcats, Kevin Childs was 2-for-5 with an RBI, Jeff May was 2-for-4 with two RBI, Cody McElhaney was 2-for-4 with an RBI while having a stellar day at second base, and Jordan Owens was 1-for-3 with a double, two runs and an RBI.

Andrew Anderson and Jared Allen each went 2-for-4 for the Hurricanes while John Duran went 2-for-5.

Georgia Southwestern took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Stephen Gaylor walked, stopped at second on Duran's single, moved to third on an errant throw in the infield, and scored on a passed ball. Andrew Archer's sacrifice fly scored Duran.

The Bearcats tied it in the bottom of the first. Robert Skinner singled to center, moved to third on Erik Lunde's double off the right-field fence, and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Owens. Nunziato followed with an RBI single.

The Hurricanes regained the lead, 3-2, in the top of the second when Anderson doubled, stopped at third on Paschal Poston's single to left, and scored on Heath Lock's sacrifice fly to right.

Lander took its first lead in the bottom of the third. Owens hit a leadoff double, Nunziato walked, McElhaney hit an RBI single, and May lifted a sacrifice fly to center to give the Bearcats a 4-3 lead.

Georgia Southwestern tied it at 4-all in the top of the fourth when Allen singled, stole second and third, and scored on Anderson's single to right.

The Bearcats went back on top, 5-4, in the bottom of the fourth when Owens walked and scored on Nunziato's triple that rolled to the fence in right center. It would prove to be the winning run.

Lander second baseman McElhaney's catch of a sinking liner for the final out of the top of the fifth saved at least one run.

The Bearcats expanded their lead to 7-4 in the sixth. Nunziato walked, stole second, and scored when Childs doubled to the fence in right center. May singled up the middle to score Childs for what would be the final run of the game.

The Hurricanes threatened in the top of the eighth when Archer and Allen belted one-out singles, but Thomas struck out Corey Benson, and relief pitcher Hughson got Anderson to ground out to short. Hughson allowed only one base runner in the ninth for the save.