Lewis’ three-run double sets tone for 4-1 win
Friday, May 16, 2014 12:00 AM
Lander University’s Connor Lewis charged with reckless abandon toward a foul ball seemingly ready to land in Bearcats catcher Chris Hyatt’s direction.
Lander University’s Graham Ramos throws to a teammate during warm-up before playing Catawba in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional at Dolny Stadium. (Maddy Jones | Index-Journal)
Lander wins another honor
Lander University's Patrick Grady, already the Peach Belt Conference baseball player of the year, was named Thursday as Daktronics' Southeast Region player of the year.
Grady is the right-fielder for the Bearcats, who are hosting this week's NCAA Division II Southeast Regional at Dolny Stadium.
Grady, who was also first-team all-region last year, leads the country in runs scored and runs per game. He's 15th, nationally, in batting average at .422, second in doubles (25), fifth in hits, 13th in home runs, fourth in on-base percentage and 15th in slugging percentage. Grady, also an all-tournament pick from the Bearcats' Peach Belt championship this past weekend in Aiken, is just one Lander player honored by Daktronics.
Also named to the first team are first baseman and Peach Belt tournament MVP Connor Lewis, shortstop Erik Lunde and pitcher Dylan Wolchik.
Georgia Southern transfer Mike McClellan, now first baseman at Columbus State, is already in the Hall of Fame for his Alma Mater, Union Grove (Ga.) High School.
During Thursday's first-round NCAA Division II Southeast Regional game against USC Aiken at Dolny Stadium, McClellan came close to copying the feat of another Hall of Famer who happens to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Although Babe Ruth once called his shot and blasted a home run, the idea somehow crept into the Cougars' dugout.
With the score tied at 2 during a rain delay, chatter turned into bravado.
McClellan, who was to bat lead-off when the game resumed, said, "I think I'm going to get a chance to win this game."
And, things escalated from there: McClellan claimed he was going to hit a walk-off home run on the second pitch.
The first pitch? A ball.
The second? High and inside.
Well, there goes that.
But the third pitch was a fastball down the middle, and McClellan belted it over the left-field wall for the 3-2 victory.
McClellan, who had already homered to right-center during that game, did not even know if he would get the chance to hit.
"I was actually expecting to be walked," McClellan said.
But after McClellan's game-winning blast cleared the wall, and he was rounding third, the euphoria took over.
"I mean, I was speechless," he said. "I touched home plate, and I didn't even know what to say. I was like, 'This can't really be happening right now. And, to be honest, now? As you talk to me? I'm still speechless. I don't even know what to think."
Looking ahead to the rest of the tourney, McClellan wants to keep things in perspective.
"You have to take these games one step at a time," he said. "We'll just do that and see what else we can do."
The Georgia College baseball team remains perfect at Dolny in postseason play. Last year, in the Peach Belt tournament, the Bobcats played themselves all the way to the title. In Thursday's first round of regional play, the Bobcats defeated Mount Olive 10-0. The Bobcats are 35-15. Jake Sandlin went 4 for 5 with three RBIs, and Taylor Henshaw went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs, including a 2-run homer. The winning pitcher was Spencer Thomas, who improved to 8-0.
Not so fast.
“I got it! I got it! I got it!” he screamed as he sped forth and caught it.
Lewis, the country’s leader in home runs and MVP of the Peach Belt Conference baseball tournament, had caught hold of Thursday’s first-round NCAA Division II Southeast Regional baseball game before that.
The senior first baseman hit a three-run double in the bottom of the third, setting the tone for the second-ranked Bearcats’ 4-1 victory against Catawba at Dolny Stadium. Lewis’ double was followed a short time later by an RBI single by Weston Lawing.
That was all the Bearcats -- seeded first in this regional -- would need as starter Dylan Wolchik (11-1) retired the first 10 batters he faced and went the distance. He gave up three hits and struck out four batters.
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