Flames baseball keeps winning at home

Special delivery — Catcher Danny Grauer had two hits including a double in Game 1 against Winthrop, April 20. Photo credit: Greg Leasure

The Liberty University men’s baseball team (22-19, 8-7 Big South) won two of three games in its series against the Winthrop Eagles (15-27, 3-15 Big South) April 20-21. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud continued his 11-game hitting streak with four hits and a RBI during the series.

Winthrop 3, Liberty 2

In the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, April 20, the Eagles defeated the Flames 3-2 despite 11 hits from Liberty.

The Flames stranded 10 runners on base and failed to take advantage of multiple scoring situations throughout the game.

“We have to give credit to their pitcher,” Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman said. “He threw a complete game, and on his 125th pitch, he was still throwing 92 mph. He is a very good pitcher, and they deserved to win
that game.”

The Flames opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when designated hitter Danny Grauer doubled to lead off the inning, and left fielder Justin Sizemore drove him home with an infield single.

But the Flames lead was short-lived. The Eagles responded immediately in the top of the third with two runs of their own, taking a one-run lead.

In the bottom of the third, the Flames appeared poised to tie the game after right fielder Ashton Perritt singled to lead off the inning, and then quickly stole second base. Similar to many innings during the game, the Flames could not capitalize on the scoring chance.

“Their pitcher did a great job,” Grauer said. “He was hitting spots all day, and he was very effective, but we just couldn’t come through, although we had plenty of opportunities. In a situation like that, we have to

Flames starting pitcher Carson Herndon labored through four innings of work, surrendering three runs before handing the ball to reliever Josh Richardson in the fifth inning. Richardson inherited a difficult situation, after Winthrop had already scored once in the inning and had runners on first and second base with nobody out.

After an infield single that loaded the bases, Richardson was able to work out of the jam without surrendering another run. Striking a batter out, Richardson then induced a double play when Perritt caught a fly ball and threw a runner out who was attempting to score after tagging from third base.

Perritt’s throw was a one-hopper from right field that just beat the runner by a second. Catcher Trey Wimmer applied the tag to the runner, who was closing fast with a
feet-first slide.

Despite the shift in momentum, the Flames continued to squander opportunities throughout the game.

“It was my job to go out there and get out of the situation we were in,” Richardson said. “I was trying to fire them up, and we just came up short. It happens — it’s baseball.”
Richardson pitched five scoreless innings, surrendering only two hits and six strikeouts.

“He came in and did as good of a job as you could ask him to do,” Grauer said. “We have to offensively build off of that and take the momentum.”

In the bottom of the sixth inning, third baseman Jake Kimble had an RBI single that brought center fielder Ryan
Cordell home.

However, the Flames did not score another run, despite having runners in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings.

“That pitcher from Winthrop was very good,” Toman said. “We tip our hat to him. We had 11 hits, but you have to get timely hits, and it seemed like every scoring situation (we had), he made a pretty good pitch.”

Liberty 4, Winthrop 1

Seeing the ball — The Flames found their stroke and connected for 30 hits during their series against Winthrop. Photo credit: Steven Abbott

Liberty fought back in the second game of the doubleheader against Winthrop Saturday, April 20, winning 4-1.

Perritt led the Flames to a victory, going 3-4 on the night with two RBIs. He also took over as closing pitcher in the top of the eighth.

“The team knew that we played pretty well the first game, but we knew we had to keep our energy up and play regardless of the previous game,” Perritt said.

Winthrop took the lead early in the first inning, as second baseman Leighton Daniels hit a double to center field. Eagles third baseman Jace Whitley laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Daniels to third. Daniels later scored on a balk by Liberty starting pitcher Brooks Roy.

The Flames quickly came back in the bottom of the second. Cordell landed a base hit and advanced to second on a hit from third baseman Sammy Taormina. Perritt brought Cordell home with a two-out single to tie the game.

Liberty gained the lead in the bottom of the third when left fielder Nick Lacik singled and then stole second. Right fielder Nick Paxton then advanced Lacik to third. Second baseman Bryan Aanderud’s single scored Lacik, giving the Flames a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, Cordell beat out a hit to shortstop for an infield single. Perritt once again brought Cordell home with a hit to center field, advancing the score to 3-1.
Liberty gained another run in the sixth with help from Grauer after a single brought Perritt home.

The Flames held the Eagles scoreless the remainder of the game.

“It is a great feeling having played a role in a win,” Perritt said. “The team has been struggling recently, but we will hit stride and shock some people once the postseason comes around. I am just trying to contribute that, whether it’s in the box or on the mound.”

Roy pitched more than seven innings, striking out five and walking two. He gave up one run on three hits, making his record 5-4 on the year.

The Flames added nine hits on the afternoon, while the Eagles had four.

Liberty 4, Winthrop 1

Ice in the veins — Despite allowing 10 hits, Carson Herdon worked his way out of several jams and only allowed three runs in the first game against Winthrop. Photo credit: Steven Abbott

Liberty starting pitcher Trey Lambert threw a complete game masterpiece, guiding the Flames to a 3-1 victory over the Eagles (15-27, 3-12) Sunday, April 21.

Lambert surrendered only six hits on the afternoon and tied his
career-high of nine strikeouts.

Lambert gave up his only run of the game in the first inning, but the Flames responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score.

Perritt hit a leadoff single for the Flames and scored later in the inning when Aanderud grounded out.

Liberty scored the deciding run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Singles from Cordell and Grauer put runners on the corners for first baseman Alex Close, who drove Cordell home with a sacrifice fly to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.

The Flames manufactured another run in the fifth inning, despite not being able to get the ball out of the infield.

Perritt recorded a one-out infield single, advancing to second base after a sacrifice bunt by Lacik.

With two outs, Aanderud also reached an infield single, which moved Perritt over to third base. With Wimmer at the plate, Eagles pitcher Sam Kmiec threw a wild pitch that allowed Perritt to score and extend the Flames lead to 3-1.

The Flames will go on the road to take on the Maryland Terrapins Tuesday, April 23.

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