GREENWOOD – Jeff May hit a go-ahead two-run double and Chess Malone pitched seven solid innings as the Lander Bearcats beat defending national champion and No. 2-ranked West Chester University 7-4 Saturday afternoon at Dolny Stadium.
Lander improved to 4-1 with its second consecutive win over West Chester, which fell to 0-2. The teams will meet in the series finale Sunday at noon at Dolny Stadium.
Malone (1-0) was the winning pitcher for the Bearcats while Kyle Tate earned his first save.
West Chester took a 1-0 lead in the first when Mike Raimo singled, moved to second on Jack Provine's single, stopped at third on a fielder's choice, and scored on a balk.
The Rams increased their lead to 2-0 in the fourth when Tyler Coleman singled, raced to third on Rob Spekhardt's hit-and-run single through the right side, and scored on Dylan Zigman's grounder to short.
Lander took its first lead of the game with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Erik Lunde started the rally with a walk, Patrick Grady lined a single that was too hot for the second baseman to handle, and Weston Lawing was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Colby Painter drove in the first run with a ground out to the pitcher, Jeff May hit a go-ahead two-run double to deep center, and Austin Dunn lined an RBI single off West Chester pitcher Fred Breidenbach's glove. May's double was the only extra-base hit of the game.
The Rams picked up a run in the top of the fifth when Chris Pula singled, moved to third on Justin Lamborn's single, and scored on Jordan Wlodarczyk's single. That pulled West Chester within 4-3. But the Bearcats turned a 6-4-3 double play to kill the rally.
Lander increased its lead with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Graham Ramos singled, moved to third on Lunde's single and scored when Grady reached on a fielder's choice. The bases became loaded after Connor Lewis walked and Lawing singled, and Painter drove in a run with a ground out to the pitcher for the second consecutive inning. Rams third baseman Lamborn made a nice stop to save more damage.
West Chester scored once in the top of the sixth when Coleman singled, moved to third on Spekhardt's single, and scored on Raimo's infield single. Once again, Lander shortstop Ramos started a 6-4-3 double play to prevent more damage.
The Bearcats tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth when Ramos reached on a two-out error, stopped at second when Lunde walked, moved to third when Grady was hit by a pitch, and scored on a wild pitch for a 7-4 Lander lead.
The Rams threatened in the ninth, placing the first two batters on base when Provine walked and Pula singled. Then Lamborn hit a deep fly ball to right that hit the wall, but the runners were forced to hold up to see if the ball would be caught. Then Provine was gunned down at the plate on second baseman Lunde's relay throw from right fielder Grady. Tate retired the next two batters on a fly out and a strikeout.
Malone allowed four runs on 11 hits in seven innings of work. He struck out five and walked two. Tate allowed three hits in two scoreless innings, striking out three and walking two.
Breidenbach (0-1) took the loss for the Rams. He allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings, walking two and striking out one.
Leading hitters for Lander were Ramos, 2-for-5 with two runs; Grady, 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI; Painter, 1-for-4 with two RBI; Dunn, 2-for-4 with an RBI; and May, 1-for-4 with two RBI.
Top hitters for West Chester was Lamborn who was 3-for-5 while Pula, Raimo, Lamborn, Coleman and Spekhardt had two hits apiece.