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Falcons score 11 in 5th, top No. 14 Lander in PBC Tourney

Falcons score 11 in 5th, top No. 14 Lander in PBC Tourney

GREENWOOD – University of Montevallo outfielder Andrew Hill hit a three-run homer and an RBI single in the same inning as the Falcons scored 11 runs in the fifth and held off the No. 14 Lander Bearcats 14-9 Thursday night in the Peach Belt Conference Baseball Tournament at Lander's Dolny Stadium.

Eighth-seeded Montevallo improved to 33-18 on the season and remained in the winner's bracket in the PBC Tournament. The Falcons, who also upset No. 1 USC Aiken Wednesday, will play the winner of Friday's 10 a.m. elimination game between Columbus State and Francis Marion later Friday at 5 p.m.

The fourth-seeded Bearcats fell to 35-15 and will meet No. 16 UNC Pembroke Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Dolny Stadium. The loser of the Lander-Pembroke game will be eliminated from the PBC Tournament and must wait to see if they are invited into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. Top seed USC Aiken and Armstrong Atlantic State were eliminated on Thursday.

Hill and Jackson Slaid each had three hits and four RBI to lead Montevallo, which rallied from a 4-0 deficit. Austin Dubberly, Vinny Rodriguez and Brandon Marshall added two hits apiece for the Falcons.

Connor Lewis paced the Bearcats, going 3-for-4. Weston Lawing was 2-for-5 with three RBI, and Erik Lunde was 2-for-4 with a home run.

After a scoreless first two innings, Lander jumped on top with four runs in the top of the third (although hosting, the Bearcats were considered the visitors in this game). Colby Painter hit a one-out single to right center and scored when Adam Davey's fly ball soared over the center fielder's head and one-hopped to the wall for a triple. After Lunde was hit by a pitch, Graham Ramos smacked an RBI single to right center. Lewis followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left center, easily scoring Lunde. A wild pitch by Montevallo starting pitcher Michael Shreves plated Ramos, making it 4-0.

But the Falcons got right back into the game in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with one out when Will Fulmer reached on an error, Dubberly was credited with a single when Lander right fielder Patrick Grady lost the ball in the lights, and Rodriguez reached on a high chopping infield single.

Slaid followed with a two-run single to right, scoring Fulmer and Dubberly to cut Lander's lead in half. But Bearcats starting pitcher Chess Malone escaped further damage by retiring the next two hitters on a strikeout and fly out to right, keeping Lander ahead 4-2 after three innings.

The Bearcats loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fourth when Lawing singled, Painter was hit by a pitch, and Davey walked. But Lander failed to score as the next two batters lined out and struck out, respectively.

Montevallo continued to chip away, pulling within 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Marshall walked, moved to second on Chad Collum's bunt, and scored on Fulmer's two-out single to right.

After the Falcons turned a double play to end another Lander threat in the top of the fifth, they took control of the game in the bottom half of the inning with an 11-run explosion. Rodriguez reached on a two-base error by the left fielder to start the rally and stopped at third on Slaid's single. Hill followed with his fourth homer of the season, a three-run shot to right that gave Montevallo's its first lead of the game at 6-4.

The Falcons went on to pad their lead in the inning with hit after hit. Marshall singled and scored on Collum's double, and Chase Bryant's single scored Collum to make it 8-4. Bryant stole second and third base, and scored on Dubberly's single. After a double steal, the Bearcats brought in Jeremy Jansen to relieve Malone, and Slaid greeted him with a two-run single.

Hill added an RBI single for his fourth RBI of the inning, and Marshall drilled a two-run triple that almost sailed over the fence, making it 14-4. The inning finally ended when Collum struck out. Montevallo sent 16 batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring 11 runs on nine hits.

The Falcons bats finally cooled off with the help of a great play in the sixth by Lander shortstop Lunde, who made a stop in the grass deep in the hole between third and short and made a long throw from his knees.

The Bearcats fought back in the top of the seventh, finally knocking Shreves out of the game. Grady and Lewis started the inning with singles and Jeff May was hit by a pitch – Lander's 108th hit by pitch of the season – to load the bases.

Aron McRee relieved Shreves and was greeted by Lawing's three-run triple down the right field line. Chris Hyatt was the fifth Bearcat in a row to reach base in the inning without an out when he walked. But Painter hit into a double play, though Lawing scored to cut Lander's deficit to 14-8.

Lunde led off the eighth with his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot to right that pulled the Bearcats within 14-9. Lander put two more runners on in the eighth but failed to score.

The Bearcats couldn't mount a rally in the ninth as the game ended at 11:50 p.m.

Shreves was the winning pitcher, improving to 8-4 on the season. He allowed seven runs on 10 hits in six-plus innings, striking out six and walking three. McRee, Devon Davis and Edward Brandsema closed out Montevallo's win.

Malone took the loss and is also 8-4 on the season. He allowed 11 runs, six earned on 11 hits in 4.2 innings. He struck out four and walked two. Jansen, Johnny Walker and Tyler Broome finished up on the mound for Lander.