The Liberty Flames baseball team (19-18) played the West Virginia Mountaineers (20-17) in a series, April 12-14. It was the first time the two teams have met since 1978. The Flames dropped two of the games, but the highlight of the series came in a 9-2 victory when second baseman Bryan Aanderud had a career high six RBIs.
WVU 8, LU 0
The Flames started their weekend series being shut out by the West Virginia Mountaineers, 8-0.
West Virginia gained the lead in the top of the first inning. With two outs and two men on base, the Mountaineers first baseman Ryan McBroom hit a home run over the left-field fence, driving in three runs. In the bottom of the firstinning, the Flames had a chance to tie the game with the bases loaded.
However, Mountaineers pitcher Harrison Musgrave retired the next three batters, leaving Liberty
“The first thing that I had to do was keep battling and give the team a chance to win the game after going down three in the first,” starting pitcher Carson Herndon said. “I just kept grinding after giving up the home run and did everything I could to keep us in the game.”
The Mountaineers were on the board again in the top of the third with the help from left fielder Jacob Rice’s RBI single.
At the bottom of the sixth inning, Liberty had the bases loaded again when designated hitter Danny Grauer reached first due to an error. Aanderud then advanced Grauer, landing him at first. Shortstop Dalton Britt was walked with two outs in the inning, but the Flames could not bring home a run.
In the top of the eighth, the Flames gave up four more runs to the Mountaineers, sealing their fate.
Herndon pitched six innings, allowing four runs on nine hits and dropping his record to 3-4 on the season.
“We have been struggling lately and not playing very well,” Herndon said. “It’s time for us to pull together and start competing a little more and win some games down the stretch.”
LU 9, WVU 2
The Flames defeated the Mountaineers 9-2 Saturday, April 13, behind the strength of a career-high six RBIs from junior second baseman Aanderud.
Aanderud had three hits, including a bases-clearing double in the eighth inning, which sealed the victory for the Flames.
“He’s just a good hitter and had another good game,” Flames Head Coach Jim Toman said. “He has been solid for us all year. He’s one of our team leaders, and we needed him to step up, and he had a great game.”
Despite the lopsided score, the Mountaineers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
The Flames immediately bounced back with a run of their own after Aanderud drove in Perritt, who led the inning with a triple.
“That was big, because when you go down 1-0, the dugout is kind of down.” Toman said. “They had the momentum early, and we turned it around real quick.”
Flames starting pitcher Brooks Roy settled down and pitched seven innings while surrendering only two runs.
“He was really focused and had a good cutter going,” Toman said. “He threw strikes, competed and — other than the leadoff double, which they ended up scoring — he pitched extremely well.”
Roy picked up his fourth win of the season, recording five strikeouts and only allowing five hits.
“For (Roy) to come out there and do that, it allows us as the offense to relax a little bit,” Aanderud said. “When you have a pitching performance like that, it’s going to help out the team, and it was huge
In the bottom of the third, Wimmer gave the Flames a 2-1 lead after driving in Perritt on a sacrifice fly, and the Flames added another run in the fourth after an RBI single
The score remained 3-1 until the top of the seventh, when the Mountaineers manufactured a run that cut the Flames lead to one.
However, the Flames responded with two more runs in the bottom half of the inning after two RBI singles by Aanderud expanded the Flames lead to 5-2.
With the bases loaded in the eighth inning, the Flames produced four runs. Perritt drove in a run after being hit by a pitch. Aanderud hit a bases-clearing double, extending the Flames lead to 9-2.
“We have a great offense, and we haven’t been showing how good we really are,” Roy said. “Perritt stepped up huge, and Aanderud drove in six runs. We need that senior leadership, and hopefully we can keep it going for the rest of the year.”
WVU 2, LU 1
In its final game of the series, the Mountaineers squeezed out a 2-1 victory despite Liberty starting pitcher Trey Lambert throwing a complete game Sunday, April 14.
Lambert gave up two runs in the first inning after two sacrifice hits for RBIs from West Virginia.
Aanderud continued to see the ball well, getting three of the Flames five hits during the game and scoring Liberty’s only run in the fifth inning.
West Virginia starting pitcher Dan Dierdorff also threw a complete game. Lambert gave up five hits and had two strikeouts.
Liberty will host the Old Dominion Monarchs Tuesday, April 16 at Liberty Baseball Stadium.