No. 19 Bearcats sweep Limestone on Senior Day

Lander's Jeff May gets congratulated after hitting a three-run homer in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against Limestone. (Photo by Bob Stoner)
Lander's Jeff May gets congratulated after hitting a three-run homer in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against Limestone. (Photo by Bob Stoner)

GREENWOOD – Jeff May and Adam Davey celebrated Lander Senior Day with a combined seven RBI and the No. 19 Bearcats swept non-conference rival Limestone College 13-2 and 9-2 Saturday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.

While Lander cruised to a victory in the opener, Game 2 was much tougher. The game was 2-all going into the bottom of the eighth when the Bearcats erupted for seven runs behind Erik Lunde's two extra-base hits.

Lander starting pitchers Dylan Wolchick and Chess Malone were outstanding, each winning their eighth games of the season.

The Bearcats improved to 31-12 overall while the Saints fell to 20-25. Lander remained 18-9 in the Peach Belt Conference.

The teams will play another game at Limestone in Gaffney on Sunday.

Catcher May, outfielder Davey and pitcher Jeremy Jansen were honored on Senior Day and each contributed to the sweep. May had a three-run homer and four RBI in the opener, Davey had one RBI in Game 1 and a crucial two-run double in the second game, and Jansen pitched a shutout inning of relief to close out the sweep.

Lander took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1 when Patrick Grady and Weston Lawing walked, and May, after fouling off several pitches, launched a three-run homer over the left-field fence. He took the team lead in homers with seven.

Limestone scored a run in the third when Stephen Crowe walked, moved to second on Michael Hughey's bunt single, scooted to third on Josh Greene's sacrifice bunt, and scored on KJ McAllister's ground out to second.

The Bearcats got that run back in the bottom of the third when Graham Ramos reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third on Grady's fly out, and scored on Lawing's sacrifice fly to center to make it 4-1.

Lander blew the game open with four runs in the fifth. Aaron Poole and Lunde started the rally with singles, Ramos hit an RBI single, Lawing launched his second sacrifice fly of the game, and May and Chris Hyatt added run-scoring singles to increase the Bearcats lead to 8-1.

Lander upped its lead to 9-1 in the seventh when Lunde singled, moved to third when Ramos and Grady were hit by consecutive pitches, and scored on Lawing's third sacrifice fly of the game.

The Bearcats increased their lead to 11-1 in the seventh on Ramos's two-run single.

The Saints closed within 11-2 in the top of the eighth when Crowe reached on an error, stopped at third on Hughey's double, and scored on Greene's sacrifice fly to left.

Lander increased its advantage to 13-2 in the bottom of the eighth on RBI singles by Davey and Lunde.

Wolchick (8-1) pitched eight solid innings for the Bearcats, allowing only two runs, one earned, on four hits while walking three and striking out six. He took over the staff lead in wins until Malone matched him in Game 2. Johnny Walker pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Ryan Cliff (3-7) took the loss for the Saints.

Leading hitters for Lander in Game 1 were Ramos, 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI; Lunde, 3-for-6 with two runs and an RBI; May, 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI; Poole and Davey with two hits apiece; and Lawing, 0-for-0 with three RBI, all on sacrifice flies. Lander was hit by pitches five times in the opener.

Hughey had two of Limestone's four hits and Crowe scored both its runs.

The Saints took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of Game 2 when Cooper Gunter struck out but reached first when the catcher failed to catch strike three. Gunter raced to third on Chad Balderman's double and scored when John McDermott reached on an error.

Lander tied it in the bottom of the first when Lunde hit a leadoff double to left, moved to third when Ramos was robbed by Limestone shortstop Hughey, and scored on Grady's ground out to short.

The Bearcats took their first lead of Game 2 on a big hit by Poole in the fifth. Connor Lewis hit a leadoff double and moved to third on a balk. Two outs later, Lewis was still on third base. But Poole delivered a first pitch single to right center, giving Lander a 2-1 lead.

Limestone tied it at 2 in the top of the sixth when Hughey, given new life in the batter's box after his foul pop up was dropped, doubled to left, moved to third on Balderman's sacrifice, and scored on McDermott's ground out to third.

Lander broke the tie with a big rally in the bottom of the eighth. Lunde hit a leadoff triple off the right fielder's glove and scored the go-ahead run on Ramos's first-pitch single to left. Grady reached on an infield single, and Lawing smacked an RBI double down the right-field line. After Limestone reliever Josh Cesario intentionally walked May to load the bases, Lewis hit a two-run single to right center for a 6-2 lead. Davey followed with a two-run single, making it 8-2. Lunde then hit an RBI double, getting his second extra-base hit of the inning and third of the game.

Malone (8-2) pitched eight outstanding innings, allowing two unearned runs, on three hits while walking six and striking out five. Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth.

Kaleb Earls (5-6) took the loss for Limestone.

Lander's leading hitters in Game 2 were Lunde with two doubles and a triple, and Lewis and Lawing with two hits apiece. Lunde had six hits in the double-header.