AMERICUS - The Georgia Southwestern baseball team did something over the weekend that no other program has been able to accomplish so far this season, defeat No. 2 Lander University twice. The Hurricanes scored three runs over the final two innings in the series finale on Monday to rally for an 8-7 victory over the Bearcats at Hurricane Stadium.
The rubber game of the three-game set was a back-and-forth affair from the beginning. Lander opened the contest with a run in the first. The Hurricanes allowed a hit and committed two errors in the frame, but GSW starter Lance Shelton worked out the inning with two strikeouts.
Southwestern quickly answered with a run in bottom half of the inning. Josh Sanders belted a one-out double and scored on the next play off an Eldridge single to right-center field.
Lander regained the lead in the third with Thomas Berry's RBI single, but it was a brief advantage once again. Corey Benson drove in Eldridge to tie the game at 2-2 in the home half of the third inning and Jarrod Taylor crossed the plate during the next at bat off a wild pitch.
GSW stretched its lead to 5-2 with a five-hit, two-run effort in the fourth inning. Zach Moss doubled home Eldridge and Neal Chambless' slow ground ball found its way through the left side of the Lander defense allowing Taylor to hustle home and score.
The Bearcats pieced together three singles, along with a walk and a GSW throwing error to tie the game at 5-5 in the fifth.
Lander scored a run in the sixth aided by two GSW errors and stretched its lead to two runs in the seventh inning with a Colby Painter solo home run.
Southwestern opened the eighth inning with singles from Devyn Newberry and Alderman. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, setting up runners at second and third with no outs. Sanders followed with a single to shallow center field that scored Newberry. The next batter, Eldridge, legged out an infield single to push Alderman across for the tying run.
After relief pitcher Coty Graham retired the Bearcats in order in the ninth, the stage was set for GSW's walk-off victory.
Sanders was walked with the bases loaded and one out.
GSW has won four of its last five games and improves to 9-20 overall and 5-13 in the Peach Belt Conference. Lander slips to 28-5 overall and 16-5 in the PBC.
Eldridge went 3-for-4 in the finale, scored twice, was walked one and drove home two. Alderman turned in a 3-for-6 performance. Sanders, Chambless, Benson and Newberry collected two hits apiece.
Painter was 3-for-5 for Lander with a home run and two RBIs. Berry, Erik Lunde, Patrick Grady, Connor Lewis and Graham Ramos had two hits apiece.
Shelton threw seven innings for the Hurricanes, allowed seven runs - three earned - and 13 hits while walking one and striking out seven. Graham (2-1) held Lander scoreless for two innings with only one hit.
Lander starting pitcher Mason McCullough tossed 3 2/3 innings, surrendered 10 hits and five earned runs. He walked three and struck out three. Johnny Walker gave up two runs in his 3 1/3 innings of work and Brandon White (1-2) pitched the final 1 1/3. White allowed three hits and walked three batters, but the final run was unearned.
Southwestern returns to action on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game at Hurricane Stadium against Albany State.