Bearcats Finish Off Doubleheader Sweep Of No. 3 UNCP
GREENWOOD, S.C. – Cody McElhaney's leadoff home run in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Lander its first lead of the game and helped the host Bearcats finish off a series-opening doubleheader sweep of third-ranked UNCP with a 2-1 win in the nightcap of a series-opening doubleheader on Saturday evening at Legion Field.
The setback marked the first series loss of the season for UNCP (15-3, 2-3 PBC) who have also now lost consecutive games for the first time all season. Lander (11-8, 2-0) secured its first series victory over the Braves since 2007 after having been swept in three-game series in each of the last three seasons.
Josh Haley singled twice on four trips to the plate to pace UNCP, who also got singles from five other players. A.J. Nunziato doubled twice on a 2-for-4 plate performance for the Bearcats, with Jordan Owens booking a 2-for-4 outing as well. It was the first home run of the season for McElhaney who finished his day with a 1-for-4 hitting line.
UNCP starter Brad Isom struck out three, while scattering six hits and one earned run across 4-1/3 innings from the mound, but gave way to Brian Willis (0-2) with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Willis induced Lander into an inning-ending double play – the third of the game for the Bearcats – but took the loss after allowing McElhaney's round-tripper in the sixth. Rookie Brandon Huffman struck out two in working a hitless eighth for the Braves as well.
Lander got a spectacular outing from Chris Thomas (3-1) who yielded six hits and a trio of walks across six innings from the hill, but still managed to pick up the win after striking out two and yielding just a lone unearned run. Ross Davis booked his first save of the season after striking out six and allowing just one hit over the last three innings of the contest.
UNCP used an untimely fielding error, a passed ball by catcher Joe Tebaldi and a sacrifice fly by Chase Grissom to take a 1-0 lead in the second but, after a handful of missed opportunities over the next two innings, Lander would finally find the offense to knot the score back up. Marshall Creed recorded a one-out single, A.J. Nunziato followed with a double and Jordan Owens delivered the goods with a game-tying RBI single to centerfield.
UNCP will look to salvage the weekend series on Sunday when the Braves take on Lander in the series finale at Legion Field. First pitch has been set for 1 p.m.