– Double-digit walks was the story on Friday evening as the
North Georgia pitching staff was unable to find the strike zone,
walking in three runs as Lander University captured the 8-1 Peach
Belt Conference victory at Bob Stein Stadium.
North Georgia drops their first series opener of the season, falling to 20-9 overall on the season and 9-4 in Peach Belt Conference action, while the Bearcats improve to 18-9 on the year and 4-6 in league action.
Lander scored the game’s first run in the second inning on a single to right field off the bat of Bud Lanier, sending Ryan McNulty racing home who led off the inning with a walk.
Zeros were thrown up on the board until fifth frame when the Saints finally pushed their first run across on a fielder’s choice from Craig Brisson to send Brad Hall to the plate who reached on a walk, deadlocking the score at a run apiece.
The Bearcats took the lead right back in the sixth inning with a trio of runs to take a 4-1 advantage. Joe Tebaldi singled home the first run of the frame, while a bases loaded walk from Robert Skinner brought another run home, and the Saints continued to assist in the rally as Jordan Owens followed and was hit by a pitch to send the third run of the inning to the plate.
Lander’s Pete Hernandez looked to break the game wide open with a fly ball down the right field line, but Brisson made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning and leave the bases jammed.
The Bearcats put the game away with a four spot in the eighth inning, tallying three hits, including RBI base knocks from Michael Vesnesky and Hernandez scored a pair, before the North Georgia pitching woes continued with back-to-back walks to plate two more runs and give Lander an 8-1 lead, an advantage that held true to the final out.
Chris Rearick (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season, going 5.2 innings, allowing four runs on just five hits, but six walks came back to catch up to the senior right-hander. He was one of four North Georgia pitchers to take the mound as the group walked 10 Lander batters, allowing nine hits and eight runs, while striking out 11.
Cory Hopper (3-1) was sensational for the Bearcats, lasting 7.0 innings and allowing just three hits and one earned run while striking out seven and walking four.
These same two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon to conclude the three-game Peach Belt Conference series. Game times have been moved up an hour with first pitch of the opener set for 2:00 p.m. at Bob Stein Stadium.