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No. 20 Mount Olive rallies late to outlast Lander in baseball season-opener

No. 20 Mount Olive rallies late to outlast Lander in baseball season-opener

GREENWOOD – Nine innings was not enough to settle Friday night's baseball season-opener between the Lander Bearcats and No. 20 Mount Olive University.

The visiting Trojans rallied from a late 5-0 deficit, scoring twice in the ninth to tie it and two more runs in the 11th on RBI doubles by Junior Snow and Jon Cosme to outlast Lander 7-5 on a cold night at Dolny Stadium.

Friday's game was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday afternoon but was moved back two days due to rain in Sunday's forecast. The teams will complete the three-game nonconference series with a double-header Saturday, with the first game starting at noon.

Friday's game started out as a pitcher's duel between Lander's Chris Sheehan and Mount Olive's Brighton Hudson. Neither team got a hit until the fifth inning, with the Bearcats stretching an early 1-0 lead to 5-0 with four runs in the seventh. But the Trojans rallied with three runs in the eighth and a pair of two-out runs in the ninth to tie.

By then, the temperatures had dropped down into the low 30s.

Mount Olive scored the go-ahead runs in the 11th against Bearcats reliever Robbie Hoyt after Drew Ellis reached on a leadoff walk and pinch runner Chris Douglas advanced to second and third on wild pitches.

With two outs, Snow hit an RBI double down the first-base line to give the Trojans their first lead of the game and scored on Jon Cosme's double to left center.

Mount Olive's Zach Vennaro relieved Reed Parris in the bottom of the 11th and walked Bailey Connell and Zack Moore, but got the final two outs on fly balls for the save, ending the four-hour plus game. Parris (1-0) got the win and Hoyt (0-1) took the loss.

The Trojans out-hit Lander 10-3. The Bearcats committed five errors.

Sheehan had an impressive Lander debut. The Wofford College graduate transfer tossed five shutout innings, allowing only one hit with three walks and four strikeouts. But the bullpen was not able to hold the lead, leaving Sheehan with a no-decision.

Hudson was also outstanding for Mount Olive, allowing only one unearned run on one hit in six innings. He allowed one walk and had 11 strikeouts, all swinging.

The Bearcats manufactured a run for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Colton Yeager reached second on an infield throwing error and moved to third on Mike Fitschen's fly out. Nathan Schreckengost walked and when he drew a pickoff throw to first, Yeager broke toward the plate. Yeager slid home safely, barely beating the throw for Lander's first run of the season.

Sheehan had his no-hit bid end with two outs in the top of the fifth when Trojans outfielder Nate Estes singled up the middle past the diving shortstop.

Lander's first hit of the season also came with two outs in the fifth when freshman infielder Tyler Lala singled to left to end Hudson's no-hit effort.

Entering the bottom of the seventh, there was only run on three hits in the game. But the Bearcats broke through with four runs on two hits against Mount Olive's bullpen.

Alex Conaway led off the bottom of the seventh with a first-pitch single to left, stopped at second when Connell walked, and moved to third when Carson Jones bunted and was safe on an error by the pitcher. Moore lifted a sacrifice fly and Yeager delivered an RBI single to shallow center. Pinch runner Justin Wager scored on a passed ball and Yeager crossed the plate on a wild pitch, making it 5-0.

The Trojans rallied in the top of the eighth, pulling within 5-3. Ellis walked, Justin Carroll singled, and JT Stone belted a two-run double. Stone scored on Jose Lopez's ground out.

Mount Olive scored a pair of two-out runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 5-all. Trae Sweeting smacked a leadoff single, Estes walked, and then Ellis struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Carroll hit a potential game-ending double play grounder as Lander forced the man at second but a wild throw to first enabled Carroll to reach and Sweeting to score. Stone followed with a game-tying triple down the right-field line.